National Supply Chain Summit earmarks the start of continued dialogue

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Five federal ministers hosted a National Supply Chain Summit January 31st to discuss the challenges facing Canada’s supply chain and to identify potential solutions to ensure that what Canadians need reach their households as quickly as possible.

Participants for this initial event included representation of Canadian organizations including business associations, manufacturers, exporters associations, as well as chief executive officers of railway, marine, air, trucking, and retail companies.

The ministers, which included Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced that over the coming weeks, the summit will be followed by a series of regional and industry sessions to continue the dialogue.

“Today’s summit is not the end of the conversation, it is just the beginning,” says Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra. “Over the coming months, we will follow up with different sessions to help find solutions to the current problems we face.”

Minister Bibeau says the pandemic ultimately is the driving force behind currently supply chain pressures.

“The pandemic has created enormous pressure throughout the supply chain,” Minister Bibeau says. “To those in our agriculture industry, I want to thank them to share their concerns, suggestions, and ambitions. I know there are no short term fixes. Addressing the challenges facing the Canadian supply chain are diverse,” adding the supply chain does not just end at the store, with the continuation of e-commerce.

When it comes to the current pressures the supply chain is facing with vaccine mandates, Minister Alghabra says the way to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel is through vaccinations, which is why the government is currently sticking to their mandates.

“Our government has to put together an action plan. There’s undoubtably a lot of frustration. We are all keen on seeing an end to COVID-19 soon. That’s why vaccinations are one of our most efficient means of [getting through COVID-19],” says Minister Alghabra. “These measures are temporary. The sooner we are out of this pandemic, the sooner we can start adjusting these measures and easing these restrictions. However, it is our job to listen. We will never give up on Canadians. We need to ensure they have all the information they are looking for.”

A new Supply Chain Task Force creation was announced at the summit as well. The task force will consult with industry experts to make recommendations regarding short and long-term actions pertaining to Canada’s supply chain. In addition, Transport Canada will make available an online portal for stakeholders and businesses to be able to provide opinions and suggestions.

“The supply chain is top of mind for Canadians as well as for our government,” Minister Alghabra says. “This National Summit was the perfect venue to collaborate with industry partners on how to identify ways to mitigate supply chain pressures, and to encourage partners to come up with innovative solutions. An efficient and reliable transportation network is key to Canada’s economic growth. The Summit represented an important milestone to discuss challenges, strategies, and next steps that will support Canada’s transportation supply chain.”

Minister Alghabra also announced a new $50 million targeted call for proposals under the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) to immediately relieve supply chain congestion at Canadian ports, for example, by increasing their storage capacity.


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