Question Period
(16 March 2015)

From Hansard - 16 March 2015

To view this section on video, click here and start play at 46:25.

Grain Transportation

Ms. Sproule: — A new report commissioned by the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Sask Wheat, Sask Pulse, and SaskBarley shows that the big rail companies are overcharging grain producers. Over the last seven years, grain producers have been overcharged to the tune of at least $2 billion. To the Agriculture minister: does the government agree with this assessment, and what are you going to do about it?

The Speaker: — I recognize the Minister for Agriculture.

Hon. Mr. Stewart: — Well you know, we’ve heard this allegation made, and we’re looking into it and will act accordingly.

The Speaker: — I recognize the member for Saskatoon Nutana.

Ms. Sproule: — Mr. Speaker, we’ve seen time and time again how terribly hesitant this Sask Party government is to stand up to the big rail companies and to fight for Saskatchewan farmers. And we’ve seen that same hesitancy from the federal Conservatives.

To the Agriculture minister: does he agree with me that 2 billion taken from the pockets of farmers and put into the coffers of the big rail companies as a result of overcharging is absolutely outrageous? And will he push the federal Conservatives for a full-costing review and the appropriate adjustment to the maximum revenue entitlement so that Saskatchewan farmers don’t keep losing out?

The Speaker: — I recognize the Minister of Agriculture.

Hon. Mr. Stewart: — Well I’m going to start informing the member about some of the actions we’ve taken starting as early as May 2013, long before the NDP were even aware that this issue might exist sometime in the future.

We started work on that with the Ministry of Highways and Agriculture officials, met with CP [Canadian Pacific]; June 2013, began work on a New West Partnership port capacity study; July 24th, 2013, Ministry of Agriculture officials met with Mark Hemmes of Quorum consulting; early October 2013, Minister of Highways and Deputy Minister of Highways met with CP in Vancouver on grain transportation issues; October 25th, ’13, Highways, Economy, and Agriculture met to talk about what was happening with the movement of commodities to port at that time; November 7th, 2013, Minister of Agriculture sent letters to federal government, railroads, grain companies, and all other stakeholders regarding the record crop and the importance of an efficient transportation system; November 7th, 2013, Minister of Agriculture . . . Ah, I’m out of time.

The Speaker: — I didn’t know a person could hold their breath that long.


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