At the beginning of 2020, we, of course, did not see a number of the disruptive issues that confronted shippers and other supply chain stakeholders during the year.

The rail blockades in various parts of the country caused disruption, as did the strike at the Port of Montreal in mid-year. The COVID-19 pandemic was, of course, the major issue and it caused particular problems for air freight capacity due to the major reduction in passenger flights that carry freight, and to global container shipping.

The disruption to ocean container shipping has resulted in container imbalances around the globe, leading to box shortages in some locations and too many in other locations. As demand picked up, especially on the Trans-Pacific routes, capacity did not keep pace leading to significant rate increases and cancelled sailings.

Regarding the outlook for 2021, at this point we can see a number of issues that will likely impact shippers during the year. Here are a few of the ones to watch.

Air Cargo:

  • the rate of return to normal levels of service
  • carbon reduction initiatives

Ocean Shipping:

  • rebalancing of supply and demand
  • Container alliances & mega-ships
  • Possible regulations related to container decontamination
  • Port of Montreal Longshore negotiations

Rail Freight:

  • update of rail regulations
  • demand/capacity balance
  • labour negotiations


  • the Electronic Logging Device installation deadline & hours-of-service regulations
  • potential driver shortage


  • global recovery from pandemic & rollout of vaccines
  • Cross-border trade with new NAFTA agreement
  • Canada-US relations under the new administration
  • Minority government & possibility of election.

This will be my final year-end President’s report. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as FMA president. The association will be in good hands under John Corey’s leadership and I will continue to assist John and Cindy Hick in an advisory capacity going forward.

I would like to thank FMA members for their support over the past 18 years and I wish members continued success with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

View the full report.