As I mark my first anniversary with the Shipping Federation of Canada, it is my honour and pleasure to submit the following update to you. It is my intention to continue these updates throughout the year, in a newsletter-type format.
For this first issue, I would like to provide some general observations from the past year, discuss our recently renewed Strategic Plan and some of the resulting work plans and areas of focus for this year, and finally, say a few words about our hugely successful Mariners Workshop that just concluded in Vancouver.
Reflections from 2022
First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who helped inform my transition into this role, and extend particular thanks to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the support they have provided throughout the year.
Thanks to a thorough handover from our former President Michael Broad, the combined expertise of our staff and Board of Directors, and the input I’ve received from many of you over the last year, I can unequivocally say that there is no shortage of issues and concerns that you rely on the Federation to help you navigate.
My approach will be to provide value to the Federation’s membership by using the collective expertise of our world class team, and leveraging the relationships we have built across the key government departments and agencies that impact your day-to-day business and operations. Some of the main ways we plan on fulfilling our mission is by modernizing a number of our products (our website is one example), improving our communication and engagement methods with members, and using a structured and strategic approach to guide our advocacy efforts.
One of the most important realizations I’ve had over the past year is the sheer volume and diversity of issues that flow into the Federation on a day-to-day basis, including a range of major initiatives emanating from all levels of government. Although many of these files are ongoing, we have recorded several concrete “wins” over the last number of months, and we will keep you posted of these at appropriate intervals. Our Circular Letters will continue to be the main tool by which we communicate important information, but we are looking at ways of improving and streamlining this process.
One of our major initiatives in 2022 was a comprehensive review of the Federation’s strategic direction, which was undertaken by the Board of Directors with assistance from an expert third party consultant. This process included a series of interviews and workshops with the Board and staff, which resulted in a re-affirmation of the four main pillars of our mission:
- Advocacy to the Federal Government
- Operational Support to Members
- Communications/Information Dissemination
- Training and Education
Other outcomes from the strategic planning process have been captured in our work plan for 2023, which is discussed in more detail below.
2023 Operational Work Plan
This work plan is a new document that I have introduced to help maintain alignment with the Federation’s strategic priorities and document some of our key focus areas and important initiatives and projects that will further enable our mission.
We are maintaining a high level of engagement on a number of relatively new files, including proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act 2001, the development of extensive new marine protected areas, the development of underwater noise standards, and a range of issues related to supply chain efficiency (especially as relates to outputs from the work of the Supply Chain Task Force).
One challenge that is at the top of our agenda is the need to re-build relationships with the senior bureaucracy at Transport Canada and CBSA, both of which have undergone a very high level of turnover during the last several months. As an example of the unprecedented level of change we are seeing in this respect, Transport Canada’s Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister and Director General of Marine Safety have all left their positions in recent months, as have CBSA’s President and several Vice-Presidents dealing with marine-related issues. Ensuring strong relationships with the new appointees who now fill these positions will be a major priority for this year.
Mariners’ Workshop 2023
For each edition of this newsletter, I plan to provide some in-depth discussion on a subject of interest to members – and I would like to begin with the 2023 edition of Mariners’ Workshop which just concluded in Vancouver.
By way of background, the Mariners’ Workshop is now in its 21st year, and typically alternates locations between Vancouver and Montreal. It has traditionally been highly technical in nature, with focus on the advancement of e-navigation initiatives and the modernization of Canada’s waterways and navigation systems. The Federation has always been very active in these areas, with a view to fostering greater efficiency and safety in the movement of ships through Canadian waterways (including the tools used by marine pilots).
The workshop brings together a wide range of professionals from across the industry, including key government departments and agencies, ports, terminals, service providers, academia, pilotage authorities, and pilots. The information shared, as well as the level of collaboration, dialogue and networking that is generated, are second to none. As a former attendee of several of these workshops, I have always viewed it as being “the best bang for your buck” for engaging with users and decision makers involved with marine navigation in Canada.
This year’s event is being described by many attendees as “the best ever”, and with over 120 registered participants and literally every seat in the room occupied, it made for a very engaging two days. We were also very pleased to welcome one of our members from Europe, who provided extremely positive feedback about the event, and in particular, the many important connections he was able to make with the Canadian Coast Guard.
In my view, the reasons for the success of this year’s event comes down to a few fundamental points:
- Exceptional organization and execution – Chad Allen and his advisory committee did an outstanding job, and I would like to thank Chad for his hard work and leadership.
- High level of participation by Federation staff – we had a true presence by providing logistical support and speaking on panels and delivering presentations. In addition to Chad, I would also like to thank Bill McKinstry, Kaity Arsoniadis, Miako Ushio and Karen Kancens for representing the Federation so well at the event. And just as important, a huge thank-you to Mario Minotti and Farah Ahmad who were very busy behind the scenes back in Montreal.
- Diverse agenda – this year’s event covered topics that are new to the Workshop, namely a panel on environmental initiatives and their impact on the mariner, and a panel discussing the shortfall of marine personnel and how to build diversity and capacity for a workforce of “tech-savy” mariners in the future.
By building on the success of this year’s event, it is our hope that we can encourage more members to attend in the future. Demonstrating the link between safe and efficient navigation, and the success of your respective operations and commercial endeavours (and ultimately the efficiency of the supply chain overall) will be key to doing so, and I believe the team is up for this challenge. So please stay tuned for information on next year’s expanded agenda.
And a final note about our staff’s contribution to the agenda. Miako played a key role on the environmental panel by providing details on the main environmental policy and regulatory changes in Canada, and Karen made a very compelling presentation on the urgency of implementing a “maritime single window” in Canada, and the need for political will and leadership from Transport Canada in order for this to occur. This is an issue that the Federation has been working to advance for a number of years, and the presentation received significant support from many stakeholders. We are hopeful that Transport Canada has finally taken note. This presentation can be found on our website by clicking HERE, and I would encourage all members to read it.
Photos from the workshop can be found at the end of this CL.
In closing, I hope that you have found value in this review, which we will continue to refine and expand over time. If you have any thoughts or suggestions for improvements or content, please let us know. I would also like to acknowledge that there are a few members who I have yet to meet directly, and I hope to close these gaps in the coming months.
I am confident that 2023 will be another successful year for the Federation and its members, and I encourage you to please reach out to me at any time with any issues of concern or feedback.
President and CEO
The ShipFed team in Vancouver for the 2023 edition of the Mariners’ Workshop
A very full house for both days of the workshop
Chad Allen officially opens the workshop
Chris Hall welcomes attendees to Vancouver
Chris Henderson, Deputy Commissioner, provides an overview of CCG activities
Chris Hall presents a cheque on behalf of the Shipping Federation of Canada to Kevin Obermeyer,
President, International Sailors’ Society (Canada)
Karen Kancens provides a presentation on the challenges of implementing
a maritime single window in Canada
Miako Ushio provides the opening presentation for a panel discussion on
marine environmental initiatives across Canada
Panelists engage in a discussion on how to build a tech-savy
and inclusive workforce for the future
Participants enjoy a cocktail reception at the end of day 1 of the workshop