March 13, 2024 | Circular No. 11641

Dear Member,

As previously reported, the Minister of Transport announced the creation of a National Supply Chain Office (SCO) last December, thereby fulfilling one of the key recommendations of the National Supply Chain Task Force.   The new office, which will work to increase efficiency and resilience across Canada’s supply chains, including by mitigating impacts from disruptions, is being led by Assistant Deputy Minister Robert Dick and will be operated primarily out of Vancouver and Ottawa.  The office is being funded by an initial  investment of $27.2 million from Budget 2023, which may be further increased in the 2024 budget due to be released in mid-April.

We have had several meetings and discussions with Mr. Dick and his team on various aspects of the SCO’s work over the last several months and will continue to collaborate closely with the new office as its work progresses.  In the meantime, we have provided below a summary of the SCO’s work to date, including its three priority projects focused on corridor collaboration, digitization, and supply chain strategy:

Corridor Collaboration and On-The-Ground Capacity

One of the most important initiatives being undertaken by the new SCO is the development of on-the-ground capacity to address concrete and tactical supply chain issues in a specific gateway / corridor (such as disruptions, bottlenecks, equipment shortages, etc.), which can be resolved on the authority of individuals who are involved in day-to-day operations without the need for regulatory intervention.

The SCO has established two corridor level groups (representing western Canada and eastern Canada) to carry out this work, each of which is composed of  of supply chain “practitioners” such as infrastructure owners / operators, service providers, transport / logistics providers, labour and shippers.  Although the SCO has elected not to include associations as direct participants in these groups, we have provided the office with extensive advice on the need to ensure that each group has the appropriate mix of representatives, including from the international shipowner / operator sector.

Both groups will work towards system optimization as a short-term objective (to be achieved mainly by identifying operational constraints and collaborating on tactical solutions), and enhanced system performance as a longer-term objective  (to be achieved by developing system-wide performance metrics and identifying opportunities to enhance corridor resiliency).

Introduction of a National Supply Chain Data Sharing Platform

Another key initiative that is being spearheaded by the Supply Chain Office is to facilitate the exchange of data among both private and public sector stakeholders in order to enhance supply chain operations.  This will be accomplished by, among other things:

  • Making more efficient use of the supply chain data that the government collects from various sources;
  • Building a trust framework to support the sharing of data by multiple supply chain stakeholders;
  • Ultimately creating a national digital platform for sharing supply chain data to help support policy, regulatory and investment decisions.

A number of activities related to this project are already underway, including the creation of an inventory of supply chain data the federal government currently has at its disposal and / or collects;  and consideration of possible mechanisms that would allow the  government to collect information a single time with no need for resubmission to other departments and agencies.  The SCO is also seeking a private sector partner to begin work on building the digital data-sharing platform itself.

A key future step will be to work with industry to identify data sources to create greater transparency within the supply chain, while maintaining the confidentiality and security of the data involved.

Development of a National Supply Chain Strategy

The SCO’s third and most broadly-based initiative is the development of a national supply chain strategy, which was one of the key recommendations of the National Supply Chain Task Force.  Although this strategy is still in its very early stages, it will focus on the following five areas of work, each of which will be based on a “whole of government” approach:

  • Enhancing the capacity and resilience of Canada trade and transportation infrastructure;
  • Modernizing legislative and regulatory frameworks to support efficiency, competition and innovation;
  • Managing Canada’s borders in order to ensure fluidity and supply chain efficiency;
  • Addressing labour and skill shortages in the transportation sector;
  • Advancing the digital maturity of Canadian supply chains to improve performance and resilience.

The SCO is very keen to provide opportunities for private sector collaboration during the creation of the strategy (including through the establishment of core engagement groups) and to also involve multiple government departments and agencies in the process.

A key future element of the strategy will be the development of a mechanism for documenting, measuring and reporting on progress, with a view to ensuring that the strategy is adjusted and recalibrated on a regular basis.

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We will continue to engage with the Supply Chain Office as it advances each of these projects, with a view to keeping members apprised of relevant developments, identifying opportunities for engagement and collaboration, and ensuring that the perspective of Canada’s international shipping industry is well represented in the offices work.

Sincerely,

Karen Kancens
Vice President