Mr. Speaker, I am going to be speaking about strengthening the board governance of Canada's strategic ports. My riding of Steveston—Richmond East is home to all of the above: rail, air and sea. It is an island city by nature, one which I look forward to the Speaker's visiting sometime.
The governance model that underpins Canada's port authorities was designed to establish responsible stewardship of these key strategic assets and to position them as commercially oriented actors that can act credibly in the marketplace. The day-to-day operations of these port authorities are directed by independent boards of directors that are responsible for ensuring that port planning, decisions and operations are made firmly within the public interest. In this context, the Minister of Transport retains the critical role of setting the strategic direction that guides the work of these boards.
For 20 years, this governance model has served Canada well. It has provided Canadians with world-class services while ensuring that capacity grew in support of Canada's economy in a gradual and financially sustainable manner. At the same time, Canada and the world have evolved. Our trade with the world is growing and is increasingly diversified. The shipping lines that support the trade have consolidated and are building even bigger ships, and the logistical connections between transportation services and shippers are growing in intensity and technological innovation. These developments underline the importance of ensuring that our ports can adapt to serve our national supply chains and global connections to the world.
At the same time, it is important to recognize that ports undertake their national mandates in very local contexts. As Canada's ports have grown, so too has public interest in their operations. In the eyes of indigenous and local communities, port governance is not only a question of orchestrating safe marine trade but is also now, more than ever, intertwined with environmental sustainability and our important national agenda for reconciliation. Simply put, Canada port authorities are being called upon to be more adaptable and responsive to an increasingly complex operating context. Things have changed since they were created over 20 years ago.
At the centre of government's approach to ensuring that port governance keeps pace are three important objectives: ensuring that port boards have the right people in the right positions to manage these strategic assets, structuring ongoing engagement with indigenous and local communities to better inform decision-making, and enhancing reporting to enable better public engagement, accountability and oversight. I will speak to these three objectives in turn.
Having the right composition and people in place on boards of directors is key to supporting enhanced board performance. This is why the government is proposing to add an additional prairie province director on the boards of the Thunder Bay and Prince Rupert port authorities in recognition of the role these ports play in the export of prairie commodities. In addition, greater flexibility is being proposed to enable more than one municipal directorship in instances where a port is located in more than one municipality. Recognizing board leadership of these strategic assets is critical, and Bill C-33 proposes to enable the Minister of Transport to designate the board chair from among and in consultation with the directors.
With respect to engagement with indigenous and local communities, this bill proposes to establishment structured mechanisms to enable more meaningful and ongoing dialogue. The port modernization review undertook extensive stakeholder consultations. During these engagements, it was noted that the depth and quality of relationships among port authorities, indigenous and local communities can vary. Such relationships are key to aligning expectations and goals and to informing port decisions that have economic, environmental and social implications. As a result, this bill proposes the establishment of three separate advisory committees at the port management level for engaging with indigenous nations, local communities and local governments. These committees would enable more meaningful and structured opportunities for engagement.
The third key governance objective this bill seeks to advance is increased reporting as a means of promoting transparency in port planning and operations, including environmental performance. Bill C-33 would reinforce port authorities' due diligence in planning by requiring them to provide land use plans on a five-year cycle. This would facilitate input from local communities and stakeholders in the port planning process. In addition, the proposed measures would modernize financial reporting and disclosure requirements that align with internationally recognized standards. Bill C-33 would further require port authorities to publicly report on greenhouse emissions and establish climate adaptation plans. These measures would position ports to be leaders in managing climate risks. Importantly, these new environmental reporting requirements would align with the government's ambitious climate change agenda and would be consistent with the requirements for other public institutions.
To promote ongoing improvements to port governance aimed at ensuring that these entities remain best in class, Bill C-33 would require port authorities to undergo a triennial assessment of board governance practices. This is an important best practice in corporate governance that befits assets of such national importance. These assessments would evaluate the effectiveness of and adherence to governance practices, including those related to record-keeping practices, the use of skills matrices and the promotion of diversity in recruitment. The results of these assessments would be shared with Transport Canada to inform future policies that help port governance remain best in class. Taken together, these important governance reforms would establish more proficient, transparent and accountable port authority boards consistent with the important role played by ports as instruments of public policy.
These measures build on the successful foundation established in the 1990s, when the Canada Marine Act was first enacted. They would update port governance to modern realities and serve to better align national and local realities, and they would do so by maintaining ports that are nimble market actors and can better support Canada's connections to the world.
We are pleased to advance these reforms. Bill C-33 would fundamentally reposition Canada's port authorities and maintain these world-class facilities that underpin our critical supply chains and national economy.