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Supply Chain Issues Remain a Key Obstacle to Growth

By: Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy   Never more have Canadians understood the importance of the movement of goods than these past two years, as the words “supply chain” became a new staple in our daily lexicon. From the global pandemic to the wildfires and flooding in BC, to physical disruptions due to blockades and strikes, the transportation system has suffered severe disruptions beyond its limits– both preventable and unavoidable.   Canada is a trading nation; our trade infrastructure matters more than many other countries given the relative importance of trade for our economy. With roughly two-thirds of our GDP value in trade activity, we rank higher than the OECD average of 56%. In the most recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, supply chain issues remain a key obstacle to growth, with businesses expecting these challenges to persist well into next year. The competitiveness of Canadian businesses and Canada’s reputation in international markets depends on reliable transportation infrastructure that allows goods to be moved in a timely manner.   On behalf of Canada’s business community, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has weighed in with its recommendations to the federal government. Firstly, the government must commit to a long-term infrastructure program that will support economic growth.  Canada has a serious infrastructure deficit, which will require us to triage priorities. The Canadian Chamber urges the government to work with business to set clear priorities on infrastructure projects that will bring forward measurable economic returns.   The Government’s National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) is a positive step forward. While it is supporting worthwhile projects in the key areas, the government must work to increase the speed at which projects receive funding. Too often, projects are stalled due to government inefficiencies. It must work with business on ensuring transparency for projects and by continuing to demonstrate how funding is helping address supply chain challenges of both today and tomorrow.   Secondly, the government must adopt a formal vision for our trade corridors.   While the NTCF is a key pillar, the government currently lacks an overall vision for our trade corridors. The government must look to work with business to develop new gateway strategies. These strategies should be guided by a vision that promotes economic growth through the collaboration of business stakeholders, such as port authorities, railways, terminal operators, trucking firms, shippers, industries and key associations. These strategies will also set the tone for investments across all levels of government and the private sector.   Lastly, all levels of government must address the labour shortage. Canada has labour shortages in a number of key sectors, including trucking that will become more urgent as the last of the baby-boomers retire. The federal government must collaborate more closely with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and with the private sector, including businesses and chambers of commerce to better understand labour market needs across the country.   To address these issues the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Chambers of Commerce in Milton, Mississauga and Brampton founded the Halton Peel Supply Chain Council. Leading transportation and logistics companies were invited to join the Council to focus on the advancement of the supply chain through resources from collaboration and information sharing to technology and talent recruitment. The Council’s efforts will provide policy direction and recommendations to all levels of government on directives that will support supply chain issues and economic growth.   Billions of dollars of goods travel to and from the Halton-Peel regional economy on a daily basis, making Halton – Peel a strategic location for national and international warehousing, distribution, and manufacturing.   On behalf of our members, the Oakville Chamber with the Halton-Peel Supply Chain Council recommendations and together with the Canadian Chamber will work to ensure that Canada’s most pressing supply chain issues are top of mind. For more information on the Halton Peel Supply Chain Council, please contact Faye Lyons, Vice President Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce.