Regina– If you’re shipping much of the product through a port, should you have a bigger say in its operation?
That’s the position of the Government of Saskatchewan, which is joining a growing list of provinces and industry groups calling for reform of representation on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA). In a release on Feb. 19, the Government of Saskatchewan noted currently only one of the 11 board members represents the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Eight are appointed by the federal government, one by the province of British Columbia and one by the municipalities that boarder the port authority.
“As a group, the western provinces make up 85 per cent of the Port’s export value, but only have 9.0 per cent of the representation on the board,” Premier Scott Moe said. “We believe that model does not provide balanced representation for the prairie provinces and are asking for the VFPA board to be restructured.”
Moe said on Facebook, “More than 80% of Canada’s grain and grain products are shipped to foreign markets through the Port of Vancouver.
He added, “With only one representative representing the prairie provinces on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, we have asked the Prime Minister to ensure our provinces are fairly represented on the VFPA Board of Directors.”
Specifically, the Government of Saskatchewan is requesting the board be restructured so that:
· The federal government appoints two members.
· The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba each appoint two members recommended by Port users.
· The municipalities that border the port authority's jurisdiction appoint one member.
As Transport Canada is currently undertaking a Ports Modernization Review, the premiers of the three prairie provinces have written to Prime Minister Trudeau to express a willingness to engage and work with the federal government on the port governance structure, the release noted. In 2019, Saskatchewan exported $13.5 billion worth of goods through the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and in 2020, the four western provinces were the source of 98.9 million tonnes of cargo worth $78.2 billion shipped through the Port of Vancouver.
Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury