The Road to Resilient Supply Chains

By Joan Janzen

This week’s humour: “I told the procurement department a joke and they didn’t get it for 4-6 weeks”. Or how about the cartoon where the roll of bathroom tissue said to the Maple Leaf, “I think you’re about to become very popular.”

Two topics that are dominant these days are supply chains and inflation. Our inflation rate is the highest since 1991, at 4.8%. Record breaking real estate prices are excluded from the calculation of the consumer price index.

MP Pierre Poilievre noted that “What’s incredible is prices are rising fastest for the things we source right here at home.” He listed chicken prices rising 6%, beef 12%, bacon 19%, natural gas to heat our homes 20% and gasoline 30%. “These are all things we provide here in Canada.”

He also asked why our Prime Minister blames global supply chains for rising prices, when the products we make here at home and have an abundance of are the ones increasing fastest in price?

“Taxes on domestic supply chains have made it more expensive for farmers to produce food, for energy companies to supply gas and home heating. All these governmental costs are driving up Canadians’ costs. The more the PM spends, the more things cost,” he said. “I expect he’ll try to blame the rest of the world for his inflation.”

Meanwhile our Prime Minister has also posed a question. “At a time where supply chains are disrupted around the world, where people are rethinking where are we getting things and what happens if there are breakdowns either political or geographic or climate related. How do we ensure resilience in our supply chains?”

Unfortunately his mandates are not a solution. “This policy is going to drive truckers out of the country and out of business,” Poilievre said. “It’s going to drive up the cost for our people, drive people out of work and leave us with empty shelves.”

Brian Lilly, of the Toronto Sun observed, “Before this trucker mandate, Canada was already short about 23,000 truckers according to Statistics Canada; 2,209 driving positions were already going unfilled in the trucking industry. All that was driving up prices because driving companies have to compete for drivers, because there isn’t enough freight capacity to take goods back and forth across the border or across the country.”

He also stated that more than half the goods that cross the Canada/US border come by truck, including produce, clothing, appliances. Parts cross the border up to seven times before a car is completely built.

  One of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce at the Ontario food terminal said he has not seen it this bad in 25 years. Shortage of port workers is compounding the problem within the supply chain. The Retail Council of Canada observed, 20% of staff are off at one time.

Presidents and CEOs of transport and trucking companies are planning to shuffle their drivers, putting them into inter-Canada roles. The result will be a big increase in drivers wanting inter-Canada jobs, and a demand for cross border drivers.

After hearing all these observations, one has to wonder if our Prime Minister wants to hear the answer to his question: “How do we ensure resilience in our supply chains?” But what does the road to resilient supply chains look like?

By the time this is in print the trucker’s convoy will be at Ottawa. Although the outcome of that pursuit is yet unknown, the response is evident to all.

A convoy participant from Alberta said they drove across the entire province of Manitoba and practically every single approach had vehicles parked on it with people cheering and waving. People would come right up to the truck and greet every vehicle, for nearly six hours, at minus 30 degree temperatures. The truckers were given bag lunches with hand written notes of appreciation in them.

He ended his comments by saying, “I have never been so proud to be a Canadian as I am today!” Not only do we need resilient supply chains, but we also need Canadians to be proud of their nation once again.

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