Canadian Shipper


CIFFA calls on governments to clarify definition of essential and non-essential services

In a letter to the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec, the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) calls a uniform federal definition of what are essential and non-essential services, following this week’s announcements in both provinces regarding closures of businesses.

“We have had an influx of inquiries at the association regarding what businesses constitute “essential” services in the supply chain,” states the letter from CIFFA, which represents some 260 regular member firms from the largest of global multi-national freight forwarding firms to small and medium sized Canadian companies. CIFFA member companies employ tens of thousands of highly skilled international trade and transportation specialists.

Companies deemed non-essential, will not be able to receive the freight that is currently in transit to their warehouse. Ocean ports, rail yards, and trucking terminals will quickly become overwhelmed with the business of undeliverable non-essential freight, which will greatly hamper the delivery of essential products that Canadians need during this crisis.

“Varying definitions around essential and non-essential services make it difficult for businesses to support the intended purposes of each individual provincial jurisdiction,” said CIFFA.

“There is confusion and great uncertainty around business continuity.”

As an example, CIFFA states that some of its members are reporting that on a more than hourly basis that their cargo cannot be picked up from importer facilities that have closed, and that this cargo will face days’ or weeks’ worth demurrage/detention charges from facilities such as ports/terminals that remain open.

“This puts them in a quandary and wreaks havoc on the supply chain as a whole.”

CIFFA said that it is imperative for both levels of government to understand how integrated the supply chain is, when shutting down one portion it could have a dramatic impact on another.

“We call for the free movement of all goods, both essential and non-essential.

“This will prevent backlogs of all freight and allow for the delivery of essential services. CIFFA looks forward to continued productive collaborations with all levels of government.”


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