July 14, 2022 | Circular No. 11452

Dear Member,

Further to our previous communications on this subject, you will find HERE a copy of our submission to the National Supply Chain Task Force, which sets forth a package of recommended actions for addressing Canada’s current supply chain challenges.

Our submission is based on input we have received from members over the last several months, as well as on comments we have previously submitted to the government on related issues, and on discussions with the Task Force itself (including during the course of a meeting held last week).

Our recommendations focus on a number of key themes, including investment in trade and transportation infrastructure, supply chain data and digitization, and rail efficiency and capacity.  We also took  the opportunity to reiterate some of the main points we made to Transport Canada earlier this year with respect to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act and the role of the Canadian Transportation Agency as pertains to the relationship between shippers and ocean carriers.

A summary of our major recommendations to the Task Force can be found below:

Trade and Transportation Infrastructure:

  • Develop a coordinated, national plan to guide Canada’s future decisions regarding investment in trade-enabling infrastructure, which is linked to Canada’s trade and export diversification agenda and based on metrics regarding available capacity and key chokepoints / vulnerabilities in all of Canada’s major trade corridors.
  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of all projects built under the National Trade Corridors Fund to date, and use this data as input for developing the above-noted national infrastructure plan.
  • Establish a Transport Canada / Environment Canada working group to review the current environmental assessment process for major infrastructure projects conducted by the Impact Assessment Agency on Canada, with particular focus on how to improve the timeliness of the process overall.

Supply Chain Data and Digitization:

  • Develop a national approach to supply chain digitization, supported by a long-term strategy and appropriate funding, that is aimed at connecting the digital platforms that ports and other stakeholders have already built.
  • Implement supply chain digitization pilot projects in the Atlantic, St. Lawrence/Great Lakes and Pacific regions based on the “port community system” model that is already in place in other parts of the world.
  • Use the above-noted pilots as gateways to advancing the “maritime single window” concept in Canada, under which ships entering and departing Canadian waters could submit all government-required information electronically through a single portal without duplication.

Rail Capacity and Efficiency:

  • Introduce more flexibility into the rail system and ensure full use of existing and dormant capacity by requiring railways to develop operational surge plans to be implemented in response to specific conditions occurring in a specific trade corridor.
  • Address key physical infrastructure needs on an urgent basis, including the construction of CN’s logistics hub at Milton and the addition of more container yard space in the Toronto area.
  • Implement key recommendations regarding rail infrastructure contained in the 2016 report of Canada Transportation Act Review Panel, including those related to setting aside land for railway expansion and publishing a five-year annual forecast of rail network demand.

Modernization of the Liner Shipping Regime:

  • Modernize the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act by explicitly extending its provisions to vessel sharing agreements and other forms of operational cooperation among shipping lines.
  • Explore scenarios under which the Canadian Transportation Agency could serve as a neutral forum for discussing issues facing shippers and ocean carriers by collecting, interpreting and sharing information related to their respective operations.
  • Invest in upgrading marine and container shipping expertise within the CTA, with a view to leveraging this expertise to fill future gaps and needs.

The Task Force has been asked to submit an interim report of its findings to the Minister of Transport this month, and to produce a full report of its conclusions and recommendations by the end of September.

Members who wish to submit their own comments are strongly encouraged to do so, as the Task Force has indicated that it is very interested in hearing from as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, including individual association members.  Comments should be submitted via Transport Canada’s on-line portal by July 31, 2022.



We will continue to engage with the Task Force in the coming months and will provide members with updates on how its work progresses.


Karen Kancens
Vice President