Editorial: Clear Canada’s clogged cargo arteries

Happily for businesses that rely on the efficient movement of goods in Canada, the federal government has embarked on an initiative to invest $10.1 billion over the next decade in improving the country’s transportation corridors.

Less happily, however, for those businesses and Canada’s economy, no amount of infrastructure investment will improve goods movement if the bureaucratic processes that undermine system efficiencies remain.

Included in the funding is $2.1 billion for Ottawa’s Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative, which will provide a $2 billion National Trade Corridors Fund and $100 million to develop technological innovation. 

This is all welcome news for anyone interested in developing a 21st century goods movement system in Canada.  

Meanwhile down on the waterfront, more immediate market issues confront shippers. Canada’s cargo clearance system, for example, is woefully inefficient.  

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association’s (CIFFA) annual general meeting agenda earlier this year included discussion of its container examination cost survey.

The findings are concerning. 

According to CIFFA members, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) examination delays for containers being moved through the Port of Montreal range between four and five days; delays in the Port of Vancouver range between three and four weeks.

Reasons cited for the lengthy delays range far and wide. As CIFFA points out in its annual general meeting notes, CBSA has lot of work to do to improve the process because “the ongoing issue of a lack of communication between government departments, flaws in the current reporting … and unnecessary calls for examinations continue to place a serious financial burden on Canada’s importers.”

The delays also erode the integrity of Canada’s cargo goods movement and the country’s ability to maximize its trade potential.

Canada needs to invest in its trade corridor infrastructure, but it also needs to rid itself of the red tape that hinders the free flow of enterprise in, out and through the country.