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Province Seeks Leave to Intervene Against New Vancouver Port Fees

Saskatchewan, along with Manitoba, is appearing virtually before the Federal Court today to seek leave to intervene in a judicial review of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s new gateway infrastructure fees.

“As a province that depends heavily on exports, Saskatchewan wants to ensure that the full impact of new port fees on key sectors of our economy is taken into consideration,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. “These fees could significantly increase costs for Saskatchewan goods moving through the Port of Vancouver and diminish Canada’s overall global competitiveness.”

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced it was implementing new fees in the fall of 2022, which came into effect on January 1, 2023. The fees range from eight to 40 cents per tonne for bulk, non-containerized cargo, including potash and grain, depending on the terminal through which the export is being processed. In response to this increase, a number of companies, including Viterra Canada Inc., are seeking a judicial review of the decision.

Saskatchewan will provide a public interest perspective on the interpretation of what constitutes a fair and reasonable fee, based on a provision under the Canada Marine Act, which requires that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Board have representation from the prairie provinces, and the large amount of Saskatchewan exports processed through the Port of Vancouver.

“As a landlocked province, Saskatchewan relies on a fair and competitive transportation network to get our goods across Canada and around the world,” Highways Minister Jeremy Cockrill said. “Our producers can compete with any in the world, as long as they are treated equitably.”

The Port of Vancouver is critical for Saskatchewan exports. In 2020, approximately 44 per cent of all Saskatchewan exports went through it, which represents a total value of $12.2 billion. This includes over $8 billion in agriculture and agri-food products and $2.9 billion in potash and potassium-based fertilizers. Approximately 22 per cent of the collective metric tonnage of goods that went through the Port of Vancouver in 2020 were made up of Saskatchewan exports.

“Port of Vancouver is trying to impose new gateway infrastructure fees that in our view places an unfair and unnecessary burden on bulk terminal operators like grain,” Parrish & Heimbecker CEO John Heimbecker said. “Given that a significant portion of those costs will inevitably be borne by prairie grain farmers, it’s only right that the Government of Saskatchewan would intervene to protect their interests and we’re thankful to the Premier and his ministers for doing just that with today’s announcement.”

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