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Current supply chain situation being faced in Canada

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

Update 13 October 2022 Statment from CN: Due to high volume of traffic at CN-MISC, we will need to pause on the acceptance of any empty containers at CN MISC effective 06:00 hour on October 13th until 0600 hours on October 15th.

There are no changes for Customers who want to pick up empty containers for their exports as well as loaded import containers from CN-MISC.

Any gate appointments that have been booked for tomorrow after 0600 hours will be cancelled.

We thank you for your cooperation and patience as we work through the current situation.

Please note below information distributed by CIFFA regarding the current situation being faced in Canada with particular reference to Toronto/Montreal

Who is CIFFA

  • Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association

  • Founded September 1948 in Montreal, to create an industry association to meet the professional demands of its members.

  • support and protect the industry and its workers with uniform trade practices and regulations

  • establish rules for proper arbitration between members and others

  • deal with all questions affecting the interests of foreign freight forwarders at large

  • represent the industry in Parliament


Congestion Hits Rail Flows from Canada's Ports as Boxes Begin to Pile Up

Rail flows from ports to the Canadian metropolises of Toronto and Montreal are stuck in low gear, with no end of the congestion in sight.

Boxes have piled up at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, as it takes longer to move them off the docks to urban centres in the east. On July 12, three out of four container facilities at the port of Vancouver (Centerm, Deltaport and Fraser Valley Docks) showed box dwell times in excess of seven days.

For the rail carriers, the port’s website indicated dwell times of more than seven days at three of the four facilities served by Canadian National (CN) and one of the three Canadian Pacific (CP) sites.

This is the result of problems in the interior, notably clogged up rail facilities in the Toronto area and Montreal.

Update from CP Rail on Terminal Fluidity-Montreal and Toronto

In messaging CIFFA obtained from CP on the evening of June 16, the railway provided an update on its terminal fluidity at Montreal and Toronto terminals, where CP was “metering empties through Montreal and Toronto gates in order to alleviate congestion and ensure fluidity through terminals.”

CP indicated that as of the morning of June 16 gates in Toronto were back to normal operations, and the same will be in effect in Montreal as of Friday morning, June 17.

CP said it will continue to monitor terminal congestion, to ensure fluidity is maintained, and that drivers can be serviced in a timely manner.

Empty Return Issues Ramp Up Again

CIFFA has received multiple communications over the last two days that a number of drayage providers in the Toronto area have advised that they will no longer handle any import containers under certain bookings because the ocean carriers are refusing to provide an empty return location.

Many members are being charged detention/demurrage charges by the ocean carriers, even though they cannot return containers to the rail or an off-site depot. Members can use this template letter in disputing detention and demurrage charges.

CIFFA is in communication with the rail and awaiting an operational update and contingency plan.

CN Tariff Update

As you may be aware, the current intermodal supply chain landscape in Canada has been disrupted. This is primarily due to the extended periods of time that loaded import containers remain at inland terminals without being picked up by consignees. The failure of those responsible to receive and handle these containers has had a cascading effect on the supply chain, and has forced CN to delay the movement of containers received at ports (West Coast in particular) because there is no room to receive them at our inland rail ramps in Toronto and Montreal.

There is tremendous pressure from all supply chain stakeholders to act with a sense of urgency and address this extraordinary situation. CN has been approached by government agencies, shipping associations, port and terminal authorities, and operators to take immediate measures that could help ease the congestion situation in Toronto and Montreal. While we believe that each party in the supply chain has a role to play in addressing the situation (especially in this case), consignees and stakeholders have turned to CN for information and solutions. We are answering these requests by taking measures which reflect a consensus amongst all involved.

To keep terminals operating in a safe and efficient manner, we are coordinating with terminal operators to meter incoming traffic from the ports in a manner that matches out-gate traffic at destination terminals. Balancing inbound and outbound containers is critical to re-establish fluidity, and this approach has helped address service levels at inland terminals. However, despite these efforts, high on-dock congestion at the ports remains, and there is a general agreement that we need new and more robust measures to address the issue.

We are therefore introducing additional measures at our rail facilities in the Toronto area to keep the consumer goods supply chain moving and maintain fluidity at our ports. Effective July 18,

CN will open a third relief container yard in the Toronto area:

Container Storage Solutions

8373 Mayfield Rd, Brampton, ON L6P 0H5

(24 hours, 7 days a week operation).

The pickup location for any containers shuttled to this off-site location will be updated and can be found here. This new inland capacity will help to keep the supply chain moving as well as assist with reducing congestion at the ports and vessel wait time. To subscribe for extended storage at this new off-site location, please send an email to 48 hours prior to the train arrival.

Other changes that you should be aware of include:

• The container shuttle fee

• The storage fees for units at Mississauga Intermodal Service Centre will increase to be the same as storage fees in Brampton and Malport (Group 1) as per CN 9100 item 6500.

We all have our part to play in the supply chain and we encourage all stakeholders to assist by picking up their import containers in a timely manner from our terminals.

If you have any questions about these changes or would like to speak to us regarding our optional services tariffs, please contact your Account Manager or CN's Sales Centre at 1-888-MOVIN-CN.

CN Customs Bulletin 67: Update on Montreal-Destined Cargo over CN Valleyfield

Because of significant congestion across the country in supply chains and at ports, in part due to the delays of importers in picking up their cargo from inland terminals, CN will be handling some Montreal-destined cargo over Valleyfield, QC. The goal of this decision is to increase the volume of imports that can depart the ports, thereby reducing the time container ships are anchored in Canadian ports. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is participating in this solution and has established processes to be followed.

See CN Customs Bulletin #67 for more information on the process and for answers to common questions.

Truckers to Be Granted Access to Express Entry Programs, CTA Says

Truck drivers will soon be eligible for participation in Express Entry Programs, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser has confirmed in correspondence to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

“In light of an acute labour shortage and a strained supply chain, this is very welcomed news for our industry and by extension the Canadian economy,” said Jonathan Blackham, CTA director of public affairs.

“CTA has been calling on the Government of Canada to help address our sector’s growing labour shortages by working with our industry to improve access to immigration channels. This announcement is very timely and absolutely welcomed by the trucking industry.”

Express Entry is an online system that is used to manage immigration applications from skilled workers and is specifically designed for skilled immigrants who want to settle in Canada permanently.

CN Update on Toronto-Destined Cargo over CN-Mississauga Intermodal Service Centre

While all efforts are being made to maximize utilization of all authorized offsite depots, CN is still seeing a large number of import containers dwelling at its Toronto terminals. CN is moving Customs-cleared containers to the offsite facilities, however the volume of Customs-cleared containers is insufficient to address the congestion. As a result, CN is forced to look at alternate options to shuttle additional containers.

In consultation with federal government agencies, CN will be handling some Toronto-destined cargo over CN’s Mississauga Intermodal Service Centre (MISC) (Port 0495/sub-location 5974).

The goal is to increase the volume of imports that can depart the ports, thereby reducing the time container ships are anchored in Canadian ports. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is participating in this solution and has established processes to be followed.

CN will pre-identify containers once they depart a port in Western Canada and will notify CN’s immediate customers of the change within 24 hours of train departure. While this initiative targets containers moving from ports in Western Canada only, the solution may be extended to ports in Eastern Canada as well should the need arise.

Driver-Equipment Shortages and Driver Inc. Top Concerns for Trucking Execs: Survey

Demand for trucking services has increased beyond what trucking companies can handle in certain markets, causing some carriers to turn away loads, according to a Nanos survey of leading trucking executives.

Nanos, which conducted the survey on behalf of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, interviewed 36 senior executives, representing companies that operate over 39,000 trucks, employ over 40,000 full- and part-time employees and transported over 2.2 million loads in 2021.

While most respondents reported that trucking activity excelled in the first half of 2022, about a third stated demand hasn’t directly increased, but a shortage of drivers and trucks has led to a reduction of available capacity. A return to full capacity of the economy and customer demand will exacerbate this problem.

Additionally, the trucking executives view the current supply chain as weaker than it was a year ago, due mainly to a lack of access to drivers, equipment and parts.

When asked about the top issues of concern, there were was an overwhelming consensus of the top three issues: (1) Driver Shortage (2) Equipment Shortage (3) Driver Inc.

CIFFA update on rail terminal dwell-dray situation

CIFFA has received several inquiries from members about situations where their dray carriers are indicating they are experiencing increasing delays and challenges due to ongoing congestion.

CIFFA has been in conversation with both CN and the dray community on a regular basis.

CN terminals in the Toronto area are experiencing increased volumes, and the dray sector is experiencing an overall shortage of drayage operators who are reporting longer wait times.

Imports that are not picked up and outgated in a timely manner are creating a bigger backlog and increasing the time required and also the number of lifts required by CN to serve the trucking community.

It is important that weekends and evenings be used as a time to move out containers. CIFFA will continue to work with all parties, to facilitate communication.

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