CIFFA calls for uniform federal definition of essential and non-essential services and products

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March 25, 2020.

Att. François Legault, Premier, Province of Quebec

Att. Doug Ford, Premier, Province of Ontario

Dear Premiers, 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.

Following this week’s announcements in both Ontario and Quebec regarding closures of businesses that are non-essential services, we have had an influx of inquiries at the association regarding what businesses constitute “essential” services in the supply chain.

Varying definitions around essential and non-essential services make it difficult for businesses to support the intended purposes of each individual provincial jurisdiction.

There is confusion and great uncertainty around business continuity.

For example, our members are reporting to us on a more than hourly basis that their cargo cannot be picked up from importer facilities that have closed, and that this cargo will face days’ or weeks’ worth demurrage/detention charges from facilities such as ports/terminals that remain open.

This puts them in a quandary and wreaks havoc on the supply chain as a whole.

If a company is closed because they are deemed non-essential, they will not be able to receive the freight that is currently in transit to their warehouse. Ocean ports, rail yards, and trucking terminals will quickly become overwhelmed with the business of undeliverable non-essential freight, which will greatly hamper the delivery of essential products that Canadians need during this crisis.

CIFFA echoes the statement of Importers and Exporters Canada in their letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, which calls for a uniform federal definition of essential and non-essential services and products. Canada’s economy and supply chains are integrated from coast to coast to coast.

The design of Canada’s supply chain infrastructure is to allow goods to move through the system without a significant level of exceptions.

It is imperative for the Federal and Provincial governments to understand how integrated the supply chain is, when shutting down one portion it could have a dramatic impact on another.

We call for the free movement of all goods, both essential and non-essential.

This will prevent backlogs of all freight and allow for the delivery of essential services. CIFFA looks forward to continued productive collaborations with all levels of government.

Sincerely,

Julia Kuzeljevich Public Affairs Manager, CIFFA

Bruce Rodgers Executive Director, 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.