We are lucky to call Canada a maritime nation with more coastline than any other country in the world. Its marine shipping and ports move billions of dollars in imports and exports each year. It’s clear that this sector is vital to Canada’s transportation network and to international trade.
As we continue our fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever that we work together to build back better Canada’s economy and compete in the global marketplace.
Canadians, and those visiting our waters, deserve a marine transportation system that is not only efficient, but safe and environmentally responsible.
To that end, our government has committed funds to help conserve 25 percent of our marine areas by 2025, and will work towards 30 percent by 2030. This will support safer boating areas in our waters and protect our country’s marine environment for years to come.
To further support the establishment of green shipping corridors, Canada — alongside 21 other countries recently signed a commitment at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
And we are also taking other steps to protect our aquatic environments.
In 2016, we announced the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan – the largest investment ever made to protect our coasts and waterways – while growing our economy. This plan is based on the best available science, as well as the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. Thanks to the over 50 initiatives under the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping in Canada has never been safer and our coastal ecosystems now benefit from stronger protection measures.
Our government has also taken strong measures to protect endangered marine mammals like the Southern Resident killer whale and the North Atlantic right whale. To further protect the Southern Resident killer whales in our waters, we have re-introduced sanctuary zones and prohibited vessels from approaching these animals within 400 metres. These are concrete ways we are working to make marine shipping safer, and more environmentally friendly.
In Budget 2021, we proposed $5 million over five years for Transport Canada to continue regulating ballast water. Ballast water, which helps keep vessels level and stable, can accidentally introduce invasive aquatic species into Canadian waters. This program requires vessels from all countries to follow the same internationally recognized rules and safety precautions to limit this from happening.
The budget also proposed $3 million for the continuation of the Tanker Safety Inspection Program. By inspecting every foreign tanker vessel that arrives in a Canadian port, the program helps protect the Canadian marine environment against hazardous material spills, and makes sure tankers comply with Canadian and international laws.
Another area I would like to highlight is the importance of strengthening our supply chains, of which so much depends on a fluid and resilient marine transportation system. In January 2022, our government hosted a National Supply Chain Summit and benefited from the input of marine organizations that participated, like the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
We are strategically positioning our investments through the National Trade Corridors Fund to not only support more resilient and sustainable infrastructure, but we are also investing in leading-edge technology to address longstanding sectoral issues. The National Trade Corridors Fund was most recently recapitalized with $1.9 billion in Budget 2021, and there is a targeted call to immediately relieve supply chain congestion at Canadian ports.
I look forward to our continued work with you as we strengthen Canada’s marine transportation system. Thank you for your contributions to this sector.