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Goods movement challenges ‘are grinding our economy to a halt’: Board of Trade


Toronto, ON — Congestion remains the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor’s (the Corridor) most pressing economic and lifestyle challenge, but as the Toronto Region Board of Trade (the Board) reveals, it’s also costing our businesses and residents millions each year in higher prices.

Clogged roadways in the Corridor disrupt the 1 million tonnes—$3 billion worth of goods—that are trucked through the region every day. Goods movement industries in the Corridor contribute 1.4 million direct jobs and $171 billion in annual GDP—one third of the region’s total.

“Our products are not reaching their destinations on time, which negatively impacts our productivity,” said Jan De Silva, President & CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade. “We want the Corridor to be a highly attractive and sought after business region, but if we don’t manage our competitiveness challenges, our economy—like our goods and people—will remain stuck in traffic.”

The Corridor is home to a vast network of local supply chains, sourcing raw materials such as steel for automotive assembly and local produce for food processing sector. Our strong manufacturing sector requires immediate access to transportation channels. The Corridor’s manufacturing sector accounts for $64.3-billion of the Corridor’s GDP and 397,000 jobs.

Unsurprisingly, Highway 401 around Toronto Pearson is the Corridor’s most congested highway. Delays negatively impact our businesses, but with the Corridor’s manufacturing and logistics directly serving much of the country, they raise costs for consumers across Canada. These delays cost $500-$650-million per year in higher prices for goods nationally, with much of this burden— up to $400-million per year—borne here in the Corridor.

The increased costs to business are passed down to the consumer. Congestion costs $125 per household each year. While this may not seem like much on its own, it’s an additional burden on top of increased consumer prices resulting from rising energy and labour costs.

“For the region’s transportation plan to be successful, our primary focus on moving people must expand to include the efficient movement of goods, and until there is collaboration, better data and policy alignment across all levels of government, congestion will be a major impediment,” said De Silva. “Congestion also impacts our ability to move goods across the border and to global markets. Trucks stuck on roads delay goods and parts shipments to markets across Canada, to the U.S. and overseas, impacting our integrated supply chains and limiting the ability to grow our economy through trade.”