Executive Director, Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association
Director of Policy & Communications, Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association
Recent events have highlighted weaknesses in the supply chain. CIFFA acts as the voice of freight forwarders, freight brokers, and drayage operators.
Canada’s supply chain — deemed fragile at best before COVID-19 — has become even more so in the past two years. “COVID-19 was the catalyst to really expedite all these challenges,” says Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA). “Under the current situation, a disruption at any of the points along the chain means significant breakdowns and failures everywhere, where one day of disruption will take roughly a week of recovery.”
Weather issues, labour disputes, rail blockades, and changes in consumer purchasing habits are some of the factors that have compromised the stability of our supply chains. Another is the irregular and unpredictable steamship schedules, making it hard for importers to gauge when products arrive. “This causes them to order in advance to ensure well-stocked shelves. Then when the ships do arrive, it creates a surge of volumes which causes an overflow in the warehouses, which in turn creates further congestion down the line at the rail yards and ports,” says Rodgers.
Advancing the interests of freight forwarding community
The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association — established in 1948 — works to advance the needs and interests of the supply chain community across three pillars — membership, education, and advocacy.
There are two membership categories — regular members and associate members. The regular membership category, which comprises freight forwarders, was recently extended to include drayage operators who move shipping containers from ports and terminals and Third-Party Logistics (3PL) load brokers, to ensure a stronger voice and broader reach. Associate members are any companies or entities connected in some way to freight forwarding and movement of goods, such as insurance companies, legal firms, IT-related organizations, port authorities, rail providers, carriers, trucking companies, and customs brokers.
CIFFA’s education pillar has formed the cornerstone of the Association since its inception. “We have a very strong reputation under the CIFFA brand for quality educational products for the logistics industry and a consistency of delivery,” says Julia Kuzeljevich, Director of Policy and Communications at CIFFA. The Association’s programs have evolved and expanded continuously year-over-year and were recently updated with on-demand and virtual offerings to support remote learning. In addition to learning the latest industry news delivered through CIFFA’s eBulletin and access to The Forwarder print magazine, members benefit from special pricing on events, education, and training initiatives.
Through the advocacy pillar, CIFFA is raising awareness of the issues and lobbying for improvement in the industry. “We have developed strong relationships with our external stakeholders such as the ports, terminals, rail providers, and partner organizations, and we regularly participate in and present at industry conferences and committees,” says Kuzeljevich.
…cargo doesn’t complain, so we’re the voice of cargo and will continue to raise awareness of Canada’s supply chain challenges and strive to improve for the benefit of industry.
A holistic approach needed to solve problems
CIFFA has also been expanding its outreach with the federal government. “We’re trying to make them aware of the bigger picture because looking at the problems in isolation just creates further problems down the line. You need to take a holistic view of everything that’s being affected through the supply chain challenges to come up with a solution,” adds Rodgers.
And while the supply chain challenges are global in nature, Rodgers explains that we can’t solve them as a country if we don’t look internally. “As I like to say, cargo doesn’t complain, so we’re the voice of cargo and will continue to raise awareness of Canada’s supply chain challenges and strive to improve for the benefit of industry,” says Rodgers.