OTTAWA, April 26, 2023 — Four years’ worth of evidence prove Canadian railways remained strong and reliable despite the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on producers and suppliers everywhere. 

A new paper, titled “Strengthening All Links: Building More Resilient, Fluid Supply Chains in Canada,” provides detailed insights and exceptional clarity into the complexity of modern supply chains and transit time variability amid pandemic and other disruptions. 

“A global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, extreme weather events, labour disruptions and shortages, and economic uncertainty…these are just some of the concurrent challenges supply chain players have faced in recent years,” says Jonathan Thibault, Manager of Economics, Data and Research at the Railway Association of Canada and report author. “Supply chain players have demonstrated remarkable resiliency through it all, and Canadian railways are top of the class.” 

The report examines two supply chains that are of critical importance to the Canadian economy, exporters, and consumers. It finds: 

  • The end-to-end transit time of containerized consumer goods from Shanghai, China to markets in Ontario and Quebec increased by 13.8 days (or 52%) from 2019 to 2022. In the examination of each supply chain link, the report shows that 99% of the increase in container transit times were attributed to activities at sea and at port and occurred before the shipping container had even been loaded onto a railcar. 
  • The end-to-end transit time for Saskatchewan grain to reach Chinese markets in 2022 was one day shorter than it was in 2019. In the examination of each supply chain link, the report shows that railways were the strongest contributor to the reduction in end-to-end transit time between 2019 and 2022. 

“Given the sheer numbers of variable at play in modern supply chains, disruptions are expected to become more frequent, less predictable, and more widely felt,” the report notes. “As a trading nation, strong, efficient, high performing, and cost-effective supply chains are critical to Canada’s prosperity. Evidence-based responses to future disruptions will be critical.” 

Canada’s railways have called measures in Budget 2023 – namely extended interswitching and the replacement worker ban – misguided and harmful to supply chains precisely because they ignore evidence and facts. Such proposals threaten to weaken supply chain links, running counter to stated government objectives like improving fluidity and resiliency. 

“Again and again, Canadian railways and railroaders have delivered despite real challenges,” says Railway Association of Canada President Marc Brazeau. “This report should make clear to policymakers that the focus now must be on tangible actions to bolster supply chains, not inefficient economic regulation.” 

This research paper has been submitted to the Canadian Transportation Research Forum and will be discussed in detail at its 58th annual conference, May 7-10, 2023 in Toronto. 


About the Railways Association of Canada:

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents close to 60 railway companies and 60 associate members (suppliers, consultants, etc.). Our freight railways transport $350 billion worth of goods across our country and to global market each year. RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at www.railcan.ca.

Media Contact:
Chris Day