Dear FMA members,

Together with my colleagues at the Freight Management Association (FMA), I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Looking back at the past year, it is clear that 2023 was an improvement over the very challenging “Covid period”.

The supply chain started to get back to normal. Ocean carrier service and rates stabilized with drops in demand and rail service cleared up backlogs. Service was generally better.

On the regulatory front the Federal Government took steps to review the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act (SCEA) and implemented extended interswitching as well as starting a review on rail regulations.

Unfortunately, 2023 was the poster child for labour disruptions. The BC Port strike lasted all of July, the St. Lawrence Seaway strike ended after 7 days and Port of Montreal longshore workers are currently negotiating a new deal. On the rail side, five agreements are currently under negotiation, three at CN, one at CPKC and one at Ontario Northland. All will expire on December 31, 2023. Work/rest rules and replacement worker regulations put pressure on an already strained labour situation.

So, what does 2024 have in store for shippers?

Labour unrest will continue to be a pressing issue in the next year. Difficulty finding qualified workers and labour disruptions are sure to continue. During 2024, we will continue to press the federal government for a review of the Canada Labour Code.

Will we have a recession or as soft landing as interest rates stabilize and inflation eases? Will the slackening demand for goods, give the Canadian supply chain a chance to catch its breath?

The FMA looks forward to the review of the SCEA, which was mandated in the Federal Budget Bill. The EU has decided not to renew block exemptions for ocean carriers. Will Canada follow this lead and have a competition law that applies to all industries?

CN’s new operating system will employ shorter trains on a hard schedule. Will this ease winter service issues? Will the CPKC merger benefit Canadian shippers or just CPKC shareholders?

We will continue to consult on the Transport Canada rail review, which is the most extensive rail regulation review in many years. As well, will the Supply Chain Office add resilience to the Canadian supply chain or simply be another level of bureaucracy?

The FMA continues its leadership role in the Coalition of Rail Shippers, and is a principal participant in the Global Shippers Forum.

Shippers continue to need an effective, efficient and uninterrupted supply chains to meet their current and future needs. The FMA is here to ensure that decision makers are aware of the challenges facing shippers.

The FMA is working for you, on all these issues and more. I encourage you to contact me, to discuss any issues that are important to your organization.

Be safe and thank you for being a member of the Freight Management Association of Canada in 2024.


John Corey, CPA, CA
Freight Management Association of Canada

(613) 791-1959