Category Archives: Industry News

Trucking and Marine Update

By Kim Biggar

A synopsis of the June trends in trucking and marine.

June 3: Truckers on Edge as Civil Unrest Rages in Major U.S. Cities – FreightWaves

Peaceful protests and civil unrest have erupted in nearly 140 cities in the U.S. over the last eight days since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fears about public safety have left truckers who deliver freight in many of the affected areas on edge.

Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, advises truckers travelling through potential protest areas to practise good situational awareness.

“Don’t go into areas with curfew restrictions and keep updated on the latest news reports of activity and avoid those areas,” Rajkovacz said. “If you can bypass major cities instead of running through a downtown area, it’ll make your job easier.”

And, he said, trucking companies have an obligation to ensure they are not putting drivers in a no-win position.

June 5: U.S.-Canada Truck Border Crossings Rebound – Ontario Trucking Association

Border data from the Canada Border Services Agency points to a continued uptick for freight, trade from the staggering pandemic plunge, Freightwaves reports.

The number of trucks crossing the U.S.-Canada border reached its highest level since late March. Nearly 86,000 truckers entered Canada from the U.S. during the week ending May 31. That represents a decline of almost 22% compared to a year ago.

U.S. freight volumes have surged since the Memorial Day weekend.

The latest data point offers yet another positive signal for cross-border freight as it slowly recovers from the COVID-19 slowdown. It also aligns with the rebound in freight volumes in the U.S. and Canada.

June 15: Pandemic Accelerates Fleets Toward Electronic BOLs, PODs – Transport Dive

With social distancing measures required, fleets needed to reconsider how to protect drivers. One way to do that is through electronic documents instead of paper ones.

“The pandemic exposed a pinch point: signing the proof of delivery (POD) and bill of lading (BOL),” said Brian Fielkow, CEO of Jetco Delivery in Houston. “Normally signed by the shipper and the driver, keeping a social distance between the two put a new spin on how that’s accomplished.”

June 23: Carriers Need to Change to Adapt to COVID-19 Challenges: Logistics Report – FleetOwner

After a trying 2019, COVID-19 has created even more challenges for the trucking industry in 2020. The pandemic created a hectic spring that saw sharp demands spurred by stay-at-home orders and panic buying that was contrasted by withering demand from closed businesses. Plus, a looming recession has created market uncertainties.

Motor carriers who don’t adapt to the new normal of this COVID-19 world might not make it to the other side, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) 2020 State of Logistics Report, which was released on June 23. But those carriers who do adapt and find a way to survive the uncertainties of 2020 could find themselves in a good position — with less competition — once the U.S. emerges from the pandemic.


June 2: Ports and Shipping Representatives Urge Faster Digitalization to Cope with a Post-COVID ‘New Normal’ – Lloyd’s Loading List

Ports and shipping representatives have issued an “urgent call to action” to accelerate the pace of industry digitalization and for the wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange, to cope with a post-COVID-19 ‘new normal.’

The grouping of 10 major ports and shipping associations and interest groups called for “accelerating digitalization of maritime trade and logistics” after the pandemic “painfully demonstrated” the absence of functioning and consistent worldwide systems for electronic data exchange. The partners highlighted that only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) currently possess functioning Port Community Systems, calling for “wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange.” 

The co-signees included nine priorities for action.

June 15: ITF Tells Seafarers to Stop Work as Crew Change Deadline Passes – gCaptain

The International Maritime Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has taken the unprecedented move of telling the world’s seafarers to stop working if their employment contracts have expired and they are awaiting repatriation home.

The move from the ITF and its affiliated unions comes after months of calls on governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’ and exempt them from COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The inability to conduct regular crew changes has emerged as one the most critical issues facing the global shipping industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 16: Crew Crisis Is on Verge of Becoming Global Trade Crisis – American Shipper

Watching the growing threat to global trade from the stranded-crew crisis is like watching a train wreck in slow motion—and the governments of the world still don’t see it coming.

A June 15 deadline was set by the union representing seafarers, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), to resolve the crew-repatriation issue, get many thousands of seafarers stranded by COVID-19 travel restrictions back home, and designate all seafarers “key workers” who can travel unrestricted.

That deadline has predictably come and gone, and fallout for the global shipping industry and world trade now appears virtually certain.

June 23: Maritime Cyberattacks Have Quadrupled Since February: Report – The Maritime Executive

The British Ports Association and the UK-based risk management firm Astaara have released a new study on the wave of cyberattacks seen by maritime stakeholders over the past four months.

The upward trend is driving increased interest in security, according to Astaara. “Now, more than ever, the advantages of


should be capable of being realized, but only if the corresponding management resilience and recovery plans are in place and practised,” said Robert Dorey, CEO of Astaara. “Processes need to be continually reviewed and updated as necessary, training provided, and new approaches to monitoring assessed and adopted.”

He noted that the new remote-work alternatives to standard operations like surveys and marine superintendent spot inspections have created new vulnerabilities for shipowners. Remote working has been identified as a major risk for security, as the attack surface is broadened.

Trucking and Marine Wrap-Up


May 8: Federal Labour Force Survey Numbers Reflect Dim Findings of CTA’s Business Conditions Report – Canadian Trucking Alliance

Federal data is supporting the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s recent findings that, despite being an essential service, the trucking industry is far from immune to the economic shocks brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and that federal aid is required to provide much-needed relief to trucking companies.

Statistics Canada has released its Labour Force Survey for April, which quantifies the devastating blow various sectors like trucking have taken from the pandemic. StatsCan reports the transportation and warehousing sector saw a -14% year-over-year change in employment, illustrating just how severe the labour and operational challenges are for the industry, even though it’s being relied on to provide Canadians with food and essential products during the crisis.

Other sectors intimately tied to the trucking industry and supply chain also experienced severe job losses, including retail, manufacturing, natural resources, and hotel and food sectors.

May 21: BC’s Essential Freight & Passenger Services Hard Hit by COVID-19 Economy – BC Trucking Association

The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) says that results of a second COVID-19 impact survey of its members, focusing on operational challenges for April 2020, indicate that trucking and motor coach companies and the suppliers who support them in providing critical services to British Columbians are severely strained by the ongoing effect of the pandemic, including significant revenue losses and staff layoffs that continue to increase.

“Our members have been incredibly heartened by the public’s growing awareness of the essential role that our industry plays in their lives – in the comfort and care that they experience as families and communities, during ordinary and extraordinary times,” says Dave Earle, BCTA President & CEO. “But in these extraordinary times, we’re hard hit. The viability of the road transportation industry and the economy always go hand in hand.” 

May 22: Truck Driver Pro Gets Major Image Boost During COVID – Ontario Trucking Association

Truck drivers have arguably never been so admired by the public as they are now, according to a new poll by Abacus Data for Trucking HR Canada.

The market research firm reported that the essential role truck drivers have played in keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 crisis has helped boost the image of the industry.

The survey of 1,800 people showed that 54% of Canadians have a positive impression of trucking companies. Only 5% had a negative view.

The overall impression of the sector has risen 10% to 15% over the past few months, the poll found. Eighty-five percent said Canada needs a strong trucking sector for the economy to be healthy.

May 27: Freight Indicators Suggest the Worst Is in Trucking’s Rearview Mirror –

The worst of trucking conditions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, but the recovery could be choppy.

In its most recent Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research predicts the economy will transition from contraction to growth over the third and fourth quarters, as the focus shifts from saving lives, to saving livelihoods.

Industry analyst FTR reports the truck freight recovery is well into the “restart phase” but overall volumes are still well below normal levels. “The trucking market is moving up in a slow, stair-step manner,” FTR reported.

But the worst should be behind us. FTR’s Truck Freight Recovery Index, as of May 25, was at 68.7, well above the bottoming of 28.9 on April 17. Dry van loads have returned to a “normal” reading of 86.3 – up from the bottom of 42.6 on April 24. “That doesn’t mean volumes are robust, they are still below last year’s levels,” FTR reported.


May 1: Prince Rupert Plans for Second Container Terminal – Chamber of Shipping

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans remain in place for the Port of Prince Rupert to expand its existing Fairview shipping-container site and build a new $2.5-billion terminal. The Port has selected DP World PLC as the operator for the second container terminal.

May 11: FIATA Urges Attention to Container Imbalance – Inside Logistics

FIATA is urging shipping lines to review their practices in order to even out the flow of containers across global shipping lanes.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of container imbalances “is reaching a tipping point, with port and terminal congestion, abandoned cargo, and container shortages. This has serious impacts on the fluidity of global maritime supply chains, at a time when the timely flow of essential goods is ever more crucial,” FIATA says in a recently published position paper.

Just as China restarted its economy and began to send export containers, the rest of the world economy went into shutdown mode, causing backlogs of import containers at ports in Europe and the Americas.

“As backhaul (export) demand increases, for example, the current high levels of blank sailings may mean there is not sufficient vessel space or container equipment for backhaul (export) containers, and as such imbalances in containers and available vessels will continue to be present.”

May 12: Significant Decreases in Port Throughput Now Over? – International Transport Journal

The International Association of Ports and Harbors and the World Ports Sustainability Program conduct weekly surveys on the impact of COVID-19 to monitor the situation and trends in world ports.

The current study shows that, compared with last week, more ports are reporting a decrease in container vessel calls. However, the share of ports facing significant decreases (in excess of a 25% drop) fell sharply from 10%-11% in the previous two weeks to less than 2% this week.

May 26: Container Lines ‘Un-blank’ a Small Number of Sailings – Seatrade Maritime News

Container lines have started to ‘un-blank’ a small number of sailings that had been cancelled in Q2 according to analysts Sea-Intelligence.

Data from the analyst showed that the number of blank sailings announced by lines had remained relatively constant for the last five weeks, and this past week had seen lines actually re-instating, or un-blanking, a small number of services. The latest move though does not yet indicate a rebound in the market as countries start coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“However, it is also clearly shown by the data that this is purely a very small change to the overall development in blank sailings. It cannot be seen as a rebound in demand, nor can it be construed as ‘strong’ demand,” said SeaIntel CEO Alan Murphy.

May 28: ILO, IMO and ICAO Urge Governments to Act on Crew Change, ‘Key Worker’ Status – ITF Seafarers

The leaders of global maritime, aviation and labour authorities have issued a joint statement calling on governments to facilitate maritime crew changes and designate the millions of workers in critical transport industries through the present pandemic as ‘key workers.’

Fang Liu (International Civil Aviation Organization), Kitack Lim (International Maritime Organization) and Guy Ryder (International Labour Organization) say that the aviation and maritime transport sectors, along with the fisheries industry, are too important to global supply chains to have any disruption caused by government restrictions preventing crew change and travel.

“Our three Organizations seek to ensure that seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, offshore energy sector personnel, aviation personnel, air cargo supply chain personnel, service provider personnel at airports and ports are designated as ‘key workers’, regardless of nationality, to exempt them from travel restrictions, to ensure their access to emergency medical treatment and, if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation,” said the leaders.

The international bodies also urged governments to remove restrictions stopping crew from disembarking from ships in port. Currently, many transport workers cannot transit through a territory to an airport or other transport hub for a crew change and repatriation home. They say repatriation flights must be sped up.

May 28: Port of Montreal Projects Are Resuming – Port of Montreal

Port optimization development projects have resumed at the Port of Montreal since the reopening of construction sites in mid-May. Adopting all the health and safety measures necessary under the circumstances, project management teams and contractors are back at work on the main construction sites launched by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), including: the redevelopment of Bickerdike Terminal, completion of Viau Terminal, the rehabilitation of docks 25 and 27, and the construction of the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay tower.

All of these projects will make it possible not only to be ready to accommodate the growth in diversified traffic at the Port of Montreal in the mid and long term, but also to contribute to the economic recovery through major investments in port infrastructures that are happening now.

May 29: Minister Garneau Announces Updated Measures for Cruise Ships and Passenger Vessels in Canadian Waters up to October 31, 2020 – Transport Canada

The Government of Canada continues to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it is having on the marine and tourism sectors. Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is Transport Canada’s top priority.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced updated measures pertaining to cruise ships and passenger vessels in Canadian waters.

  • Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020.
  • As of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority requirements for timelines and processes to resume operations.

Include Freight Forwarders as Essential Service: CIFFA Letter to Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

April 7, 2020.

Att. Hon. Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness,

Dear Minister Blair,

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) represents some 260 regular member firms from the largest of global multi-national freight forwarding firms to small and medium sized Canadian companies. CIFFA member companies employ tens of thousands of highly skilled international trade and transportation specialists. As a vital component of Canada’s global supply chain, member firms of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) facilitate the movement of goods around the world. Freight forwarders provide a vital link in Canada’s global supply chains, enhancing export capabilities and assisting in the delivery of competitive solutions to Canada’s importing and exporting communities.

Shipping lines, airlines and other transport operators provide the conveyance methods but are chosen as the method of transport most cost effective by the international freight forwarder. So, in this logistics struggle, freight forwarders are an essential if not the key component of the community and economic struggle.

From the transportation sector identified in the recent government announcement Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, essential transportation workers were defined as workers supporting or enabling transportation functions in any transportation mode (i.e. road, air, rail, marine). For greater clarity, the listing included: truck drivers, warehouse workers, employees of logistics operations, freight trains, maritime workers, postal and shipping workers, and air transportation employees.

We would like to eliminate the ambiguity of the services that we provide, ensuring that we are properly identified as essential going forward, and request that freight forwarders be identified and named within the guidance list as essential transportation services.

Thank you for consideration of our request.


Bruce Rodgers            Executive Director, CIFFA

Julia Kuzeljevich          Public Affairs Manager, CIFFA

CIFFA Letter to CBSA on Minimizing Risk to Trade

April 7, 2020.

Att. Mr. John Ossowski, CBSA President (
Mr. Paul Rochon, Finance Canada Deputy Minister (

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) represents some 260 regular member firms from the largest of global multi-national freight forwarding firms to small and medium sized Canadian companies. CIFFA member companies employ tens of thousands of highly skilled international trade and transportation specialists. Many of our members also serve the import community through a complete suite of offerings, one of which is to arrange the timely clearance of goods through the CBSA Release Prior to Payment (RPP) privilege as a licensed customs broker.

The solution proposed by the federal government on March 27th, to defer Goods and Services Tax/Harmonization Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020 was a great benefit to the business community.

As indicated, this measure could provide up to $30 billion in cash flow or liquidity assistance for Canadian businesses and self-employed individuals over that same period.

Currently, approximately 220,000 importers who do not have their own bond rely on the approximately 300 custom brokers for:

  • Custom clearance processing of goods
  • Custom conditional release of goods, using the broker’s RPP bond to guarantee duty/tax payments
  • Reporting and accounting for goods, and
  • Ultimate payment to CBSA on behalf of their importer clients.

While the proposed solution offers relief of payment, the risk and liability for custom brokers remain. As such, we are requesting that:

  1. In the case of importer bankruptcy or default on payment, a customs broker should not be held liable for duty/tax amounts owing and not collected, where the broker’s bond was utilized for release of goods;
  2. A customs broker should not be held liable for GST/HST payments owing by a registered importer client, where a GST direct payment option agreement is established and the importer makes customs tax payments directly to Receiver General for Canada;
  • Likewise, an importer should not be held liable for duty/tax payments already made to a customs broker, who has filed for bankruptcy; and 
  • No claim be made against RPP bonds for amounts owing on the Statements of Account for which payment is due June 30th.   

As the federal government has decided to allow a deferral of duties and taxes on imports, the customs broker cannot keep all importers, currently without their own bonds in place, on a customs broker bond, without protection in the form of deposits or advance payments.

However, should the federal government agree to waive the broker’s liability until the June 30th payment, the broker can continue to offer the use of the broker bond as a mechanism for the release of goods and allows importers the cash flow benefits of the government’s payment deferral plan.

The above recommendations will allow businesses to continue and ultimately support business recovery and resumption.

Thank you for considering our request.


Bruce Rodgers            Executive Director, CIFFA

Julia Kuzeljevich          Public Affairs Manager, CIFFA


Mr. Peter Hill (

Mr. Jonathan Moor (

Ms. Michele Govier (

View PDF Copy

CIFFA Letter to Premier of Ontario on Essential Services and Importer Closures

April 6, 2020.

Att. Doug Ford, Premier, Province of Ontario

Dear Premier Ford,

Thank you very much for your response and listing of essential businesses during these very difficult and unprecedented times. We can appreciate the difficult, but necessary decisions that are being made for the ultimate welfare of the Province. As we stated in our initial letter to you on March 25, we require clear and concise language regarding what business can and cannot do, especially relating to non-essential businesses.

Your response indicates that at-risk workplaces were ordered to close, and that the decisions relating to non-essential businesses was a tough-one. Those two references have very different meanings, which adds to the conflicts and confusions that we are expressing.

We trust from your business experiences, that you have a very good understanding of how the supply chain functions overall.

In order to ensure fluidity at our ports, ensuring that there are no bottlenecks or excessive costs in the movement of goods either by air, water road or rail, we require an announcement that all warehouses and distribution centres must continue to receive and store goods that have been ordered.

To this end, we believe that item number 22 in your Listing of essential workplaces could be slightly modified as follows:

“Businesses that provide and support import commodities, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods.”

Importers will not be able to pay the exuberant costs of storage if they elect to close their businesses.

We have not seen any form of relief from the government on this and it appears to be area that is ill understood.

We wish to thank you for your consideration of our request and for your level of direct involvement and engagement.


Bruce Rodgers
Executive Director, CIFFA

Julia Kuzeljevich
Public Affairs Manager, CIFFA

Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA)

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) represents some 260 regular member firms from the largest of global multi-national freight forwarding firms to small and medium sized Canadian companies. CIFFA member companies employ tens of thousands of highly skilled international trade and transportation specialists. As a vital component of Canada’s global supply chain, CIFFA member companies orchestrate the movement of goods around the world. International freight forwarders are the foremost experts in cargo transportation solutions and an essential partner in advancing the Canadian economy and the economic prosperity of Canadians.

View PDF copy

Canada Infrastructure Bank announced $300 million in financing for Port of Montreal’s new container terminal in Contrecoeur.

Canada Infrastructure Bank announced it is committing up to $300 million in financing to the Port of Montreal’s project to build a new container terminal in Contrecoeur.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) financing demonstrates significant support for the expansion of the largest port in Eastern Canada, which must expand its activities to fully participate in national economic growth. This project will enable the port to meet the needs of the market in the coming decades.

Read full text.

Inflatable dunnage reduces freight damage

Protecting truck freight from damage during transit is critical to supply chains.  Each year, money and merchandise are lost because of failures in preventing shifting, colliding and breaking up of freight during transit.  

To address these concerns, the industry has typically turned to a variety of dunnage materials and methods including plywood, matting, strapping and load bars to stabilize and secure truck loads during transportation. However, some of these options can be problematic for shippers, and billions of dollars are still lost annually due to products damaged as a result of inadequate dunnage.

This is causing the industry to consider dunnage solutions to fill the empty spaces, such as advanced inflatable truck dunnage bags that can be inflated to precise pressure levels during the loading process, which better stabilize truck freight.  Designed for single trip use, air bags offer the advantage of being configurable and effective freight stabilizers for voids of up to 24 inches between pallets.  Air bag design has continued to advance with improvements that lower overall costs and improve performance for freight loaders and haulers. 

“The material used to make the bag and other subtle – yet important – design features can add considerable value to this type of dunnage,” says Mitch Tschantz, owner of Inflatable Packaging Incorporated (IPI), a Connecticut-based inflatable packaging and dunnage solutions provider founded in 1993.

The company, for example, has developed a transparent air bag solution for truck dunnage bags that is made of a fully recyclable polyethylene material.  Unlike woven, paper or vinyl materials, the dunnage bags are made of a transparent film, which gives the bags lower weight and handling advantages.  The film can stretch and expand (unlike inflatable air bladders with covers), which makes it adaptable at varying altitudes. 

Inspections are expedited because the material is clear, not opaque like other dunnage materials, which facilitates international shipments.  “With a bright light, inspectors can see through the material all the way to the bulkhead of the trailer to ensure there is no smuggled contraband or illegal border crossers,” explains Tschantz.

The polyethylene bags can be pre-positioned in the warehouse prior to loading, or in the trailer, using double-sided adhesive labels.  The inflation valve can be either at pallet top or bottom for easy inflation. For forklift operators, pre-attaching bags to pallets in the warehouse can expedite the loading process by 25-30%.

The surface of the polymer bags is also treated with a charge of electricity so it clings to the stretch-film used to stabilize goods on pallets.  Other types of bags, including those with paper covers, are known to migrate out of position as a result of bouncing and shifting during transit.

“Truck dunnage has advanced well beyond simply filling voids inside boxes and between pallets,” concludes Tschantz. “Smart design and customized solutions are improving efficiencies, better protecting goods, and reducing costs in supply chains.”

CP to acquire Central Maine & Quebec Railway from FTAI

Canadian Pacific and Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC announced they have entered into a definitive agreement whereby CP will acquire the Central Maine & Quebec Railway.

CMQ owns 481 miles (774 kilometres) of rail lines primarily in Quebec and Maine. The end-to-end transaction will provide CP customers with seamless, safe and efficient access to ports at Searsport, Maine and to Saint John, New Brunswick, via Eastern Maine Railway Company (EMRY) and New Brunswick Southern Railway (NBSR), thereby preserving and enhancing competition.

“This strategic acquisition gives CP a true coast-to-coast network across Canada and an increased presence in the eastern U.S.,” said CP President and CEO Keith Creel. “With additional port access, more dots on the map, and our proven precision scheduled railroading operating model we are confident this transaction will bring benefits to all stakeholders moving forward.”

As part of the transaction, FTAI will retain ownership of Katahdin Railcar Services (KRS), a tank car cleaning and repair facility, and the contract to operate at a 12-mile branch line at FTAI’s Long Ridge Energy Terminal in Monroe County, Ohio. FTAI intends to continue to develop and grow both the KRS and Long Ridge branch line businesses.

“We are excited about this transaction as it brings value to our shareholders, while ensuring that the CMQ continues to provide safe and reliable rail transportation options,” said Joe Adams, FTAI CEO.

The transaction is currently expected to close at the end of 2019 and remains subject to customary closing conditions. Over the coming weeks, CP, FTAI and other stakeholders will move towards closing.

CN Presents Update and 2019-2020 Winter Plan at Forwarder Breakfast meeting

On November 21, CN presented an update and a discussion of its Winter Plan to a group of forwarders in attendance at the Hilton Toronto Airport in Mississauga.

Present from CN were Aron Depasquale, Director International Sales, Dan Bresolin, Assistant Vice President, Intermodal-International, Russ Perdue, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Intermodal International, and Robert Bassett, Market Manager and Business Development, Intermodal.

The event focused on network capacity and winter plan operations. (Developments in CN’s labour situation with the conductors are discussed in a separate CIFFA bulletin item.)

Depasquale led the presentation, beginning with the four key pillars which form the basis of CN’s operating model for the coming winter and beyond. They are: Safety, Resilience, Recoverability and Partnering.

Winter brings particular challenges and CN is committed to putting safety ahead of all other considerations, Depasquale noted.

The tipping point in terms of difficult operating conditions is -25°C. Below that temperature, railway technologies – steel rail, steel wheels, and long compressed air brake systems – become more vulnerable to problems that can disrupt normal operations. Welded rails become less flexible, frozen gaskets leak air at brake hose couplings, ice crystals wear down wheel treads, air hoses freeze and air cannot move consistently through the full length of the compressed air system.

CN has embarked on an extensive capital program adding close to 140 miles of double track, and 14 new and longer sidings. As well, 205 new high horsepower locomotives are in place. The company expects to increase its double stack rail cars by 9% this year.

The network strategy in winter involves assembling a “senior-level winter cabinet” and additional senior staff running 7/24 at all RTC Centers for the winter, with procedures and guidelines in place for managing adverse operating conditions with the goal of maintaining network fluidity.

CN is working with Natural Resources Canada on cold weather testing.

The railway has converted 100 genset cars into air repeater cars to assist with distributed power.

Backup power generators are being deployed across key areas of the network to improve safety and prevent delays.

CN is also investing in automated car inspection portals alerting maintenance to defects.

Learn more here:

Redefining Railcar Inspections:

Access the PDF of the presentation here.


CIFFA participated in a recent webinar conducted by full-service law firm Wilson Vukelich, LLP, summarizing the recent changes to WSIB rates.

Earlier this year, CIFFA members received a Premium Rate Summary Statement from WSIB.

This statement indicated: members’ Current Rate, Premium Rate, NAICS Code and Subclass Description.

In CIFFA’s case, the association’s rate is projected to increase 296% above the current rate level.

It has been explained that the WSIB will change from their current experience rating program (NEER, CAD-7 and MAAP) to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which is current used by the United States, Mexico, Statistics Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency.

The significance of this change is that the WSIB will move from its current 155 rate classification groups to 34 classes, or sub-classes, which will be updated every five years. Under this new system, the WSIB will be adjusting each employer’s premium rate over a rolling pro-rated six-year period, based on past experience ratings (most current three-year period represents 66.6% of the rating with 33.3% based on the previous three-year period.

The full list of NAICS classes and rates can be found at:

Once the business is properly classified, the second step is to assess how the individual claims history compares to the rest of the businesses within the same class. Individual premium rates will be based on:

1 – Insurable Earnings, 2 – Number of claims, and 3 – Claims cost.  

What remains unchanged is that businesses with more than one business activity will be classified according to the predominant activity of the business with the highest amount of insurable earnings.

If the WSIB have established that a business is carrying on distinct business activities that are recognized as separate classifications, it is imperative that:

  • separate payroll records be maintained,
  • the activity must not form an integrated operation with the employer’s other business activities,
  •  the business activity must be significant enough to warrant a separate payroll.

As mentioned above, each business has been assigned a starting point rate and projected premium rate based on previous rates, claims experience, size of business and NAICS classification.

In 2021, businesses will only be required to move up at most one risk band (5%). For those projecting a decrease, as there are no limits, the business would be moved to the indicated classification rating. In 2022, business that have yet to reach their projected premium rate will be moved up two risk bands above their 2021 rate (10%). In 2023 and thereafter, business will be affected by three risk bands (15%) until the projected rate level is reached.

It is important that businesses review their classification to ensure that they are properly positioned.

For additional information, employers can request an extended statement from WSIB that will provide details on how the individual premium rate was calculated, the adjustments made on your business claims experience and a breakdown of your claims costs.   

E-commerce, automation hot topics at DLS panel on Warehousing and Labor Fulfillment

CIFFA was a sponsor and exhibitor at the recent Distribution Logistics Summit which took place November 5 and 6 in Brampton, Ontario.

Julia Kuzeljevich, Public Affairs Manager, led a discussion on the topic of Labor: Fulfilling the Next Generation, which discussed how the warehousing, and the related labor market, are changing rapidly, including recruitment, retention, adaptability, and evolving skill sets.

Discussion also revolved around e-commerce pressures and automation.

The speakers were Paul Jan, a Managing Partner with Tevah Advisory, and a Supply Chain Strategy Instructor, UC Irvine, Ryan Susteras, Owner, ZiggyJobs, which aims to create an On-Demand Workforce for the supply chain industry, and Derek Lynch, Director, Sales, with Dematic.

The warehousing industry faces a near-constant shortage of workers and an aging population, with a third of the workforce over 65.

According to a 2019 U.S. study on statistics around warehouse trends, warehouses and DCs can experience up to 15% turnover, and nearly half of all new hourly warehouse workers abandon their jobs within the first three months.

Also, the direct cost of replacing a warehouse worker can reach as high as 25 percent of the resource’s annual salary. E-commerce is amplifying the effect with its more complex customer requirements.

According to 2019 US Supply Chain Warehouse Trends, the usage of paper-based systems decreased to 48%, labor management system use increased to 15% and the use of WMS increased to 93% for the first time.

In this climate, the productivity of warehouse workers becomes essential.

Automation is being adopted in many settings but it doesn’t necessarily mean elimination of jobs, but the potential for improvement.  Automation can play a role in taking away the undesirable and dangerous jobs, and improving/assisting picking accuracy.

Even taking into consideration situations where automation can be applied, peak season volumes often mean that human labor is always needed.

So there is some focus on making the warehousing industry appealing to a more “transient” workforce that is interested in temporary, seasonal and stop-gap employment, at least in the “lower end” positions.

Says Ryan Susteras, “We’ve been in a situation where there has been shortage of staff for a long time. Maybe focusing on retention is not the thing to do. We should start thinking about adapting to the flexible workforce,” he said. Companies need to know how to optimize in terms of their needs.

The idea of an “on-demand workforce” is one that has a pool of available labor that have been verified, and is more readily accessible via an online database vs. a time-consuming paper process.

“On-demand” is not as established for the Canadian supply chain, Susteras said, but has been more widely used in the U.S.

According to the panelists Canadian businesses are often late to follow some trends.

Paul Jan noted that Canadians take more of a wait and see attitude on results, for example automation.

“We want to see someone else try and test things before we take a chance. Canadians are generally late adopters,” said Susteras.

But there has still been a huge appetite for ramping up automation in the last five years, he added.

Early adoption of automation is in areas such as voice picking, and there is a smattering of vision-enabled technologies being tested in the warehouse environment, said Lynch.

“Automation can be as low-level as moving from paper-based to voice picking,” he said.

As you go up the chain of complexity of technologies, it’s toward mobile robots and other more sophisticated applications.

In the e-commerce warehouse environment, people are adapting to many of the technologies which are easy to grasp and can be especially enabling for the disabled or the aging workforce.

What makes for a successful implementation of automation?

“The company has to understand its business case, and giving employees the clear picture of what you want to achieve helps the implementation,” said Jan.

“If you decide to go down the automation path it will work best if you communicate to your staff why you have decided to make this decision,” Lynch said.

“Make sure that the right person is responsible for training, or you’re setting yourself up for disaster,” Susteras said.

The timing is good with regard to the new technologies in terms of attracting a younger workforce.

“These are the right people to figure it out,” said Susteras.

Jan said that with the younger generation, the technology is an appealing draw, but beyond that lies the opportunity for collaboration and interest in becoming supply chain leaders.

The “gamification in the industry” means that a lot of the technology is intuitive.

How do you train to that?

It’s about integrating different working styles.

“It’s about engagement more than anything,” said Lynch.

The metrics that can be built and the data that can be harnessed boils up to a persona that gives better insight into the overall network of the operation. And the transparency of productivity that can be measured can be a motivating factor for employees (albeit also a source of contention).

How do we reach out to potential new hires for warehousing?

The way to do this is to focus on the technology aspects which make the job attractive, and on the potential for a job that comes with a flexible work environment, for that population that is trying to get into a first job or add a part time job as a sideline to something else, said Susteras.

What will continue to need a human touch in warehousing?

In the context of automation, those boundaries are really changing daily, said Lynch.

The human touch is always needed to handle the “uglies”, i.e. items that could be seasonal and require specific handling, like canoes, and those sorts of things that will still rely on forklift drivers.

There is always going to be a segment of the volumes going through the DC that’s going to need a human interaction.

In grocery DCs, for example, with automated palletization, automation in freezers is a great result for “staffing” an area where fewer people want to work.

CIFFA Urges FEDS To Take Action On Potential Rail Strike

On November 5, 2019, CIFFA’s Executive Director Bruce Rodgers submitted the following letter to several federal Ministers, to strongly urge the Government of Canada to take any necessary action to keep the railroads operating should the current labour negotiations prove unsuccessful.

Dear Ministers,

We are writing to you today to provide input on the impending strike notice by CN Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), and to strongly urge the Government of Canada to take any necessary action to keep the railroads operating should the current labour negotiations prove unsuccessful.

Read full text.

CP presents network capacity update, winter plan at CP-CIFFA breakfast event

CP and CIFFA held a breakfast event October 30 at which the CP provided a multi-faceted presentation to update attendees about CP’s services and its Winter Contingency Plan.

CIFFA Executive Director Bruce Rodgers opened the session with a brief discussion of CIFFA’s mission, the benefits of membership, an overview of course offerings and of the association’s strategic initiatives. Public Affairs Manager Julia Kuzeljevich discussed CIFFA’s advocacy initiatives.

On hand from CP were Jordan Kajfasz, AVP International Intermodal and Automotive, Marie Wu, Director of Marketing and Pricing, and Val Kucherenko, Pricing and Marketing International, from the railway’s International Intermodal Team, and Rob Nichols, MD, from Domestic Intermodal.

The following is a summary of the presentation.

CIFFA Western Region Events Committee Presents Cheque to Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Congrats to CIFFA’s Western Region events team which generated $2100.00 from the July 11 Western golf tournament and gala dinner by selling 50/50 tickets.

On October 23, CIFFA Western Region chair Tiffany Vandenberghe, General Manager, Gillespie-Munro Inc., along with committee members Daniel Ramos and Jeff Haley (both with Rodair), presented a cheque for $2100.00 to Terra Paredes, Manager, Community Events and Engagement for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

The committee was given a tour at the Food Bank’s brand new warehouse/distribution centre in Burnaby.


L-R: Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director, CIFFA, Sally Richardson, OCF Inc., and Debbie McCloy, Bladder Cancer Canada.

VANCOUVER, September 27, 2019. — CIFFA is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Donna Letterio Leadership Award, Sally Richardson of Overseas Container Forwarding Inc. Richardson is the Executive Vice President of OCF Inc. and has been in this role since 2008.

Richardson received the award at CIFFA’s Western FCA gala dinner September 27, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was presented by CIFFA Executive Director Bruce Rodgers.

CIFFA introduced the annual Donna Letterio Leadership Award in December 2015. The award is granted annually in memory of former CIFFA President Donna Letterio, who passed away in August 2013. The award recognizes a woman in the global freight logistics sector who has demonstrated, as Donna did, professionalism, commitment, leadership and a passion for excellence in her career and in her life.

In addition to the award, Rodgers presented a cheque in Sally’s name in the amount of $1,000 to Debbie McCloy, Vancouver walk coordinator of Bladder Cancer Canada.

Richardson came to OCF as an exchange employee from OCF’s Australian agent on a 6-month stint in 1994. After several extensions of the exchange position, she

accepted a full-time position and quickly became part of OCF’s management team. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sally’s tenure with OCF.

A proficient trainer and a highly respected employee and industry associate, Richardson has been described by her colleagues as “a key part of OCF’s ongoing success and a credit to our industry.” She has a deep understanding of how to engage and motivate employees in order to reach company objectives.

Richardson has been responsible for international agency development, the implementation of systems and IT solutions, and the engagement and training of new talent promoting a motivating and supportive culture.

She was instrumental in developing the first dedicated direct LCL Consolidation service between Canada and Australia in the 1990s.

She also created a strategic partnership with Habitat for Humanity, contributing funds from every $100,000-plus LCL shipment handled in 2017-2018 towards simple, decent and affordable housing.

Richardson fundraises for and participates in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

She enjoys trying new things and one of her best memories is of kayaking for eight nights with ten other people in the wilderness of the Broken Islands, B.C., under very challenging conditions, a trip that served to Richardson as a reminder of what can be accomplished “when we all pull in the same direction.”

Hamilton Container Terminal services aim to change the game for container drop-off, pick-up, flexi-bag and fumigation

The Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT) opened for business in 2018, filling a critical need in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area transportation network. Since then, HCT has been steadily growing its business, adding new customers, partners and services.

Located at Pier 15, the new terminal has been improving delivery times and streamlining truck traffic within the GTHA, reducing the need to travel to Brampton or other depots to pick up or drop off containers. This new facility has been a game changer for customers throughout the western Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara regions, who are saving logistics time and money.

Based on its early success, HCT has expanded the range of services offered. These include drayage, container inspection, maintenance and repair. A new weigh scale was installed in the summer of 2018, and a new rail siding will be introduced as part of the port’s Westport Modernization project, providing better modal choice for terminal users.

HCT has also established relationships with major shipping lines and container leasing companies that set the stage for more handling and storage of loaded containers. Due to its location, HCT is an ideal terminal for cargo routed via Port of NY-NJ and Philadelphia serving Ontario importers and exporters. “HCT can offer a very cost competitive alternative in the region for loaded container storage, including special equipment.”

Areas where HCT sees a great deal of opportunity is in flexi-bag services as well as fumigation which is mandatory for all cargoes moving to Australia and New Zealand.

HCT has been CFIA-certified for fumigation.

For more information about the Hamilton Container Terminal, click here.

WayPay Acquired By Royal Bank Of Canada

One of CIFFA’s newest Associate Members, WayPay, has just completed an acquisition by RBC.  This acquisition further strengthens WayPay’s industry leading payments software and will continue to allow CIFFA members to save both time and money when making international payments.

CIFFA Members can continue to take advantage of WayPay’s strong value proposition and may connect their preferred bank account.

They do not need  to be customers of RBC to use WayPay.  You can read more about WayPay’s acquisition HERE. To learn more about WayPay click HERE.

Blockchain In Transport Alliance (BiTA) initiative to support modernizing the bill of lading for the future of transportation

The Blockchain In Transport Alliance (BiTA) has elected Richard Greening, Global Director of Technology for The DDC Group and its freight-focused division DDC FPO, to serve as Co-Chair of the alliance’s Bill Of Lading (BOL) Working Group.

The group was established by the standards development side of BiTA, referred to as “BiTA-S,” with the mission to create a modern definition of “bill of lading” and an associated data structure specification that can be leveraged across all transport modes for supply chain stakeholders. Its participants are made up of subject matter experts from BiTA-member companies representing trucking (LTL and TL), rail, sea and air.

Greening joins the BITA-S group with a combination of technical expertise and deep industry knowledge in logistics and supply chain.  With his original background in air freight, Greening has developed and deployed systems for freighter networks, freight forwarders, airside ground handling facilities and bonded warehouses.

Greening’s first matter of business to the elected position is to ensure the group hits its component milestones and is in a position to support all freight sectors.

“As we have been working through the attributes and relationships needed for this standard, it has been very enjoyable hearing examples of scenarios and potential challenges in other freight sectors and discussing what these could be in the future,” explained Greening. “We need to ensure we set a good example for other groups to follow.”