During a strategy session in 2018, Vancouver-based Courtney Agencies brought its attention to building its business in a way that is conscious of its impact on the environment, its contribution to local and global communities, and its responsibility to its people.

“We know that we have a pretty small footprint,” said President Paul Courtney. “But we want to be counted with the companies who truly want to make a difference, and access any point of influence we may have to say that this is important.”

Every decision Courtney makes now runs through its lens of social purpose and social responsibility. To get started, Courtney worked to baseline its carbon impact at the operational level and set goals for reduction of paper use and electricity, earning them Climate Smart certification. That work provided a good launching point for its application to be certified as a B Corporation.

B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.

Courtney participated in the “Getting to 80” program offered by Decade Impact – a consulting company that educates and supports organizations in advance of making a B Corp application. Eighty is the score that earns B Corp certification; to maintain certification requires the organization’s commitment to continue to make changes and establish programs to increase their scores year over year.

The assessment is divided into six categories: Governance (ethics), Workers (development and security), Community (diversity/inclusion, local purchasing, donations), Environment (facilities and carbon intensity), Customers (stewardship) and Disclosure (openness). Examples of how their commitments have been playing out – in the last two years, Courtney has earned a spot as one of BC’s Living Wage Employers, established a new RSP program for its staff, purchased offsets for its own operations-level carbon emissions, developed the plan to establish a carbon calculator and offsets for clients and, most recently, made a corporate donation plus matched giving for staff who want to support Ukraine.

Courtney’s data is now under assessment with B Corporation – and they are eager to get their report card. Even if this first application results in information about where they can strengthen the next one, Courtney is eager to learn where it can make positive change.

In addition, Paul is adding his voice to the larger conversation about the environmental impact of the shipping industry as a whole. He uses his blog and social media to amplify messages such as those about the World Trade Organization’s social responsibility and social priorities as articulated by Director-General Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

“This is not being done with a view to make us more competitive — we wholeheartedly invite others in our industry to join us. There is still a need for educating each other and our customers on how to balance price, planet and people.” Paul added.

There are stories of more and more companies stepping up to reduce their carbon impact — including what happens at the hands of their suppliers. Moves in this direction are good business practice and have the potential for good growth.

Paul Courtney is a member of the CIFFA Sustainability Committee* and welcomes the conversation with all members about why and how to think and act like a global citizen.

*The mandate of the CIFFA Sustainability Committee is to identify best practices in the areas of sustainability and to provide guidance on the development and implementation of sustainability goals to membership (Read full text). Discover the 13 CIFFA National Committees.

In some ways, given geopolitics, instability and the overall chaos of the last few years, it would seem like both the worst and the best time to talk “Sustainability.”

Greener fuels across all modes, a reliable and stable source of renewable power sources, the equal and humane treatment of all human beings, regardless of age, religion, colour, sex, etc., the reduction of waste and overconsumption across the world, a fair system to measure the offset of carbon consumption? All within reachable, attainable and universally agreed-upon timeframes?

At the time of writing the world we occupy has been distracted by war, pestilence, fear, scarcity and economic instability. Hardly a great climate for change, and yet, maybe a true catalyst for lasting change.

We’ve decided to dedicate a large section of our Spring Forwarder to the topic of Sustainability.

(Download Full Magazine)

Host and CIFFA Eastern Committee Chair Angelo Loffredi launched the gala followed by opening remarks by CIFFA Executive Director Bruce Rodgers.

Julia Kuzeljevich, Director of Policy and Communications for CIFFA, presented the Donna Letterio Leadership Award to 2020 recipient Sylvie Vachon (award accepted in her absence by Angelo Loffredi) and to 2022 recipient Samara Millin.

CIFFA also honoured three of its departing directors: Paul Hughes, Larry Palmer and Edna Carr.

Heartfelt thanks go out to the Eastern Events Committee, headed by Angelo Loffredi, and to the evening’s Event Sponsors:

Diamond National Sponsors:

Ruby National Sponsors:

Thanks, too, to the CIFFA marketing and events team in the secretariat office for their contributions to this event. (View Pictures Here)

TORONTO, May 9, 2022. — CIFFA, the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, is pleased to announce the appointment of three new Directors to its National Board: Martin Schultz, Jodie Wilson, and Randy Hnatko. “We are pleased to welcome Martin, Jodie and Randy to our Board of Directors. They offer a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be indispensable to CIFFA,” said Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director.

Martin Schultz is the Global Procurement Manager with Manitoulin Global Forwarding (MGF). Although his forwarding experience is short, he spent over 20 years working as an ocean carrier (most of which were at a CIFFA Associate Member). His expertise is all facets of ocean transportation. He has recently completed both CIFFA and FIATA certificates.

He served for several years on the Toronto Steamship Association board of directors, including the presidency. He also served on special committees after the presidency. Over the course of his career, he served on several internal company committees, and on an advisory committee to Senior Management.

Jodie Wilson has been with Rhenus for almost 2.5 years, as Rhenus acquired Rodair where Jodie worked for several years before the acquisition. Prior to that she was with LCL Navigation for 17 years. Overall Jodie has been in the industry for approximately 35 years and in those years has worked as a freight forwarder as well as an NVOCC, mainly in a sales role. Jodie has volunteered on the CIFFA Central committee for approximately 22 years and has previously held roles on CIFFA’s National board as the Ethics Chair and Central Chair. Jodie has been involved in Charity events such as Habitat for Humanity and AllPaws rescue.

Randy Hnatko is President of Sphere 1 Logistics Inc. and Trainwest Management and Consulting Inc. Sphere 1 Logistics Inc is British Columbia’s First Logistics Management and Freight Consulting Firm located in Vancouver, Canada, providing International Shipping and Global Supply Chain Solutions incorporating Air, Ocean, Courier, Trucking and Intermodal Freight Services. Randy is a trainer, speaker, author and consultant to domestic and international companies. He has trained many organizations ranging from small/medium sized companies up to Fortune 500 companies. In 2017 he was nominated for Businessperson of the Year and his company was nominated for Business of the Year and Community Spirt Award from the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce; in 2019 he was nominated in the category for Business Innovation for the Burnaby Excellence Awards held by the Burnaby Board of Trade.

Meet the rest of the CIFFA National Board of Directors

(Download PDF Copy)

CIFFA’s Ontario Young Freight Forwarder Committee held its first live event April 28 since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was a networking dinner in Mississauga, attended by close to 100 guests. Following a three-course dinner, four leaders in supply chain participated in a panel discussion:

(Tracy McLean, CAIB, Senior Vice President, Global Logistics Insurance, NFP, was scheduled on the panel but unfortunately could not attend.)

The panel was moderated by Julia Kuzeljevich, CIFFA’s Director of Policy and Communications.

Rachael van Harmelen, Chair of the Young Freight Forwarder Committee, introduced the speakers and was instrumental in coordinating details for the event over the course of several months, as were CIFFA’s Secretariat, Charlotte Clarke, Nick Lutz and Bruce Rodgers.

CIFFA thanks its event sponsors for their support of the event.

(View pictures here)

TORONTO, April 27, 2022. — CIFFA, the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, is pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Donna Letterio Leadership Award, Samara Millin, Station Manager, AIT Worldwide Logistics (Canada) Inc. (Previously Connexion World Cargo).

CIFFA introduced the annual Donna Letterio Leadership Award in December 2015. The award is granted annually in memory of former CIFFA President Donna Letterio, who passed away in August 2013. The award recognizes a woman in the global freight logistics sector who has demonstrated, as Donna did, professionalism, commitment, leadership and a passion for excellence in her career and in her life. In addition to the award, CIFFA will prepare a cheque in Millin’s name for $1,000 which will be presented to Bladder Cancer Canada.

“CIFFA is very proud to continue with this very prestigious award, recognizing women of influence in our industry, which will also inspire the next generation of women leaders. We are very pleased to present this award to Samara, who exhibited all the qualities that the award represents,” says Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director, CIFFA.

Samara joined the British Army in January 1996 in a logistics role, and 26 years and many countries later, she says there isn’t a part of Logistics and Freight Forwarding she hasn’t had the chance to experience especially as in the military it was “all hands-on deck”. When offered the position of Canadian Route Development Executive, Samara saw this as a great opportunity to settle down and relocate to Canada. Next was the opportunity to open an office, hire and train staff and become a Station Manager.

“My passion for this industry has enabled me to train and manage numerous colleagues and see them succeed. I’m fortunate to have made some wonderful lifelong friendships with coworkers, customers and suppliers around the world. I think it’s due to my happy, friendly nature coupled with honesty and great communication. Volunteering has been an obsession and I have been doing it since childhood. One of my favorite things to do is use my planning and organizing skills to develop and take part in fundraisers and events. For example, a yearly haunted house, escape rooms and on the committee for local Canada day Celebrations. As a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters I was partnered with a sweet 7-year-old girl that has grown up into a most amazing woman. She is currently running her own business while attending University with aspirations of becoming a Chief Financial Officer. She continues to make me proud and I am glad we are still in each other’s lives,” Millin says.

For several years, Samara has been on the board of directors for a nonprofit that provides recreation facilities and events for the surrounding area. It is an organization that helps bring the community together and supports and caters for children through to seniors.

“Through living a positive and happy life we can all inspire others to strive for the same or better. At work, embracing all the company’s core values especially in areas such as performance, community and valuing people and then encouraging others to do the same is such a positive way to lead by example and make work a pleasant and happy environment,” Millin says.

“Logistics is not a 9-5 job, you need to be dedicated, flexible and able to think outside the box. You also must love it as it can be stressful at times. Although workdays are extremely busy it is important to take time to talk to co-workers, show recognition, give thanks and praise when deserved,” she adds.

Millin was named AIT Volunteer of the Month October 2019, and volunteer work is close to her heart.

“We host international students in our home and this year it is a boy named Ian from Brazil. We hosted his brother three years ago and it was nice that Ian and his parents made a request to the school board for us to also be his family whilst he comes to Canada to study. We try to involve them in the community as much as possible and make their visit to Canada memorable,” says Millin.

Every year, CIFFA offers an award to a young freight forwarder who best demonstrates industry knowledge and skills to become a true international freight forwarding professional in the future.

After a review process of industry experience and a written dissertation demonstrating technical knowledge, CIFFA is pleased to announce that Karina Daniela Perez Perez of DSV Air & Sea Inc. has been selected as the 2022 Canadian Young Logistics Professionals Award winner.

Karina started her post-secondary education in Mexico, where she received a scholarship to study a semester abroad at Bishop’s University in Quebec, Canada.  She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology Engineering from the Instituto Politecnico Nacional.  She continued her education in Canada and graduated with High Honours from Seneca College’s International Transportation and Customs Program.  Karina was one of only a few students selected for the co-op program during which she gained experience handling import and export shipments via truck to and from Canada, USA and Mexico and went on a business trip to Queretaro, Mexico while working for First Frontier Logistics Inc.  Karina has also completed the Authorized Cargo Representative and Customs Automation Certificate Descartes MSR Customs course, as well as the CIFFA International Freight Forwarding Courses and received the FIATA Diploma.  Her passion for the logistics industry began in her hometown Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico, whose main economic activity is the exportation of fresh and frozen fruits.  She currently works as a freight forwarder in the Ocean Exports Department at DSV Air & Sea Inc.  Karina has also been part of the Air Import and Export Department, where she has won the data quality challenge award of excellence.  She has volunteered with the Trade Commission of Mexico and the Daily Bread Food Bank.

As this year’s Canadian winner, Karina will receive a cash prize of $1,500 and will represent Canada at the FIATA Americas regional competition.  This requires the submission of two dissertations.  If selected as the Americas regional winner, Karina will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to compete at the 2022 FIATA World Congress in Busan, Republic of Korea in the fall.

Additionally, CIFFA would like to acknowledge the good efforts and exceptional work of the Young Logistics Professionals Award competition runner up, Rabar Gardy of Savino Del Bene, S.p.A.  Rabar obtained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the Salahaddin University-Erbil, Iraq and a Program Certificate in IT and Social Media from the Virginia Commonwealth University.  Additionally, he has completed the CIFFA Certificate in International Freight Forwarding, the Air Dangerous Goods Certificate and continues to educate himself.  Rabar became interested in freight forwarding while living in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and applied for a job with Savino Del Bene in Erbil in 2016.  In 2018 he continued working for the company in Toronto and has recently become the branch manager’s assistant.

Click here for more information on the Young Logistics Professionals Award.

CIFFA, through its Secretariat, represents the interests of the Canadian Freight Forwarders and actively participates on the various FIATA , (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) Global Institutes and Advisory Bodies.  

By Bruce Rodgers, CIFFA Executive Director  

As a Regular Freight Forwarder Member firm your membership fees also include Individual Company membership to FIATA. This membership expands some 150 countries, consisting of approximately 5,800 individual members. Its mission objectives are fivefold:  

  1. to unite the freight forwarding industry worldwide. 
  2. to represent, promote and protect the interests of the industry by participating as advisors or experts in meetings of international bodies dealing with transportation. 
  3. to familiarize trade and industry and the public at large with the services rendered by freight forwarders through the dissemination of information, distribution of publications, etc. 
  4. to standardize and improve the quality of services rendered by freight forwarders by developing and promoting uniform forwarding documents, standard trading conditions, etc. 
  5. to assist with vocational training for freight forwarders, liability insurance problems, tools for electronic commerce including electronic data interchange (EDI) and barcode.

The following is a summary of some of the many FIATA initiatives presented during the past year. 

For more info on these many initiatives please reach out to admin@ciffa.com. 

Airfreight Institute (AFI) 

The ACFI held discussions around ACI multiple filing, particularly when reporting shipment data to customs authorities, as per pre-arrival and pre-loading Advance Cargo Information regulations. The Institute reviewed an IATA paper containing draft proposal recommendations to develop a common understanding of the self-filing issue and to establish a protocol for airlines to address it with their supply chain partners, noting the need to prevent duplicative, mismatching, or missing filings.  

The AFI discussed whether the WCO (World Customs Organization) should work to develop a generic filing process at the global level, however it was raised that this could risk opening the door to using it as a mechanism to collect penalties and fines. The possibility of considering the mandatory data elements at the WCO level was discussed, linking to Single Window and safety and security data. 

Customs Affairs Institute (CAI) 

The CAI noted the importance of continuing to reinforce FIATA’s position on customs topics and actively work towards trade facilitation for the benefit of international trade, including by strengthening partnerships with International Organizations.  

The committee agreed to work towards the following key priorities for 2021:  

Specific work included:  

AEO Validation and Implementation Guidance  

During the WCO SAFE review cycle, FIATA noted the contentious aspect of the inclusion of policies on forced labour and social responsibilities such as a code of conduct into the AEO criteria. The committee positioned that those topics go beyond the intended scope of AEO programs whilst possibly excluding small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from AEO programs as a result. 

Participated on the virtual AEO Conference on the challenges and best practices when exchanging data for the implementation of Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRAs) on AEO programs. FIATA highlighted the need for all countries to have the same opportunities to join the AEO program and for the application to be standardized around the globe. Also commented on the opportunity to modernize and digitalised the process.  

WCO Capacity Building Committee 

Reviewed a strategic initiative to support members and government worldwide in navigating their implementation of the WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), especially through “tailor-made” assistance and capacity building support.  

E-Commerce Annual Review 

The committee reviewed the different revenue collection approaches cited in the WCO E-Commerce Package and agreed on a buyer-consumer approach as opposed to the intermediary-based approach, as the latter approach was considered to add an undue burden of collection on the freight forwarding process, particularly in the context of e-commerce shipments. In addition, under certain conditions, the absence of commercial relationship between the freight forwarder and the party importing the goods would render the intermediary-based approach impossible.  

WCO Permanent Technical Committee 

The committee noted that simplified procedures and paperless trade have become the new norm due to the pandemic and the importance to maintain those safeguards going forward. It underlined the importance to ensure that Advance Electronic Information as well as ensuring access that companies of all size can benefit from AEO Programs.  

Coordinated Border Management  

Coordinated Border Management refers to a coordinated approach by border control agencies, both domestic and international, in the context of seeking greater efficiency in managing trade and travel flows, while maintaining a balance with compliant requirements. FIATA positioned that customs administrations should enact bilateral or multilateral agreements or mutual recognition agreements of customs control. Highlighted the need for common standards and harmonization in terms of data gathering and sharing within the context of Coordinated Border Management.  

Multimodal Transport Institute (MTI) – Working Group Sea Transport 

Several key themes were identified, based upon the top priorities raised in FIATA’s Freight Forwarding Trade and Transport Survey 2021:  

Spot contract vs. hedging: Freight Forwarders’ management of risk 

The committee reviewed the ongoing issues being the unreliable and volatile container shipping market, the rising freight rates, the lack of accountability in terms of contracts and the exacerbation of all of these issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussed further the topics of spot contract versus hedging, whether forward agreements would be able to guarantee enforceable contracts on which conditions are present and potential digital solutions touching upon these issues. The committee discussed the possible solution to ensure enforceable contracts, that guarantees contract performance through two-way commitments with guaranteed price and service level. Underlined ongoing digital solutions which could aim at solving these issues related to unreliability and non-compliance with contract terms.  

Advisory Body on Information Technology (ABIT) 

Four key topics have been identified as priorities for ABIT members to focus on this year:  

  1. eFBL Proof of Concept
  2. Freight-pay platform
  3. Interoperability project
  4. Share new technology advances with FIATA members

The scope of the first priority is to test the issuance of digital FBL through different software providers and to test FIATA’s document tracking solution, which will certify the validity of the document, the integrity of its content, as well as the identity of its issuer, through a unique QR code stamped on each document. The initiative started in February and was completed the end of June. The next steps for the balance of this year will be to develop the technology requirements. 

The roll-out of the initiative will start in Europe in first quarter 2022 and commence in Canada during the fourth quarter. 

Freight-pay platform 

Develop a marketing plan that should be very transparent on the costs related to the use of the platform as well as the different transaction fees that will be applied on the platform. 

Interoperability project 

Provide a benchmark and analysis of existing data-exchange solutions, analysis of FIATA members needs and challenges in terms of data exchange and definition of a solution to facilitate the exchange of data between freight-forwarders and the different actors of the supply chain. 

Share new technology advances with FIATA members 

Update FIATA members on emerging digital technologies/solutions, help FIATA members to adopt new technologies, support FIATA’s digital strategy by informing members about the relevance of the different projects for their day-to-day business. 

Working Group Sustainable Logistics (WGSL) 

The seven WGSL work projects, which have been elaborated based on meeting objectives are listed as follows:  

The project sequence and timeline were emphasized, with a focus on projects one- four to be completed this year. Participants agreed on the importance of communication, i.e., to make the message achievable and understandable was stressed as well as the necessity for FIATA to take a very clear lead on the issue. As regards the emission calculators, the need for didactic material (tutorials, graphic, etc.) was strongly stressed to overcome their complexity. 

As described in detail above, there are several global initiatives that are being undertaken to improve the forwarder status and positioning within the global supply chain. 

To obtain further information on the developments of these committees, please reach out to admin@ciffa.com. 

With the fall federal election of 2021 in mind, in August 2021 CIFFA prepared a policy document,  “Critical Issues in Transportation Affecting Canada’s Recovery” which addressed all of the political parties on the most critical issue in Canada today: our economic recovery from the chaos and losses of the Covid 19 pandemic.  

With the results of the election behind us, and a new government mandate ahead, CIFFA aims to lobby with renewed force to represent the interests of membership. 

The following provides an outline of the policy document and our aims. 

Meeting our economic challenges with vigorous and effective policies will enable us to confront the many social and environmental issues we face.  Alternatively, if Canada does not address the economic challenges effectively, we will be weaker on every issue.  

The Covid experience has been unprecedented. No one could have predicted how it evolved in our national life.  Some industries were relatively unaffected – some even flourished – but others have been crippled and we will experience the impacts for years to come.  

In confronting the economic damage, governments must confront the reality that markets have been distorted and Canadians have lost market share. There is no guarantee that we will win this back unless it is seen as a cooperative national priority.  

One critical reality that should form public policy is this: it is not as much about the ambitious “new” policies and infrastructure, as it is about executing the existing framework with efficiency and excellence.  In places where the federal government’s agencies are directly involved in economic activity, it is critical that they execute with very high levels of reliability and timeliness.   

This has implications for federal staffing targets as well as complex, time-consuming regulatory processes.   

Over the last three decades Canada has relied on market forces to craft the services and prices for transportation. Generally, this has been a successful strategy, one we endorse with appropriate government oversight for those areas where concentration of market dominance can lead to abuse of dominant position.  With a few exceptions we have also employed a “user pay” approach which has kept system costs away from taxpayers.   

However, the Covid 19 epidemic has created completely unprecedented circumstances. 

For the next two years the federal government will need to maintain a greater degree of responsiveness to economic developments than it has since deregulation.  It must ensure the cost efficiency of the transportation network that affects all industries and travelers.  

Customs Services and Border Modernization: 

One of the most encouraging developments in recent government decisions was the announcement of a proposed investments in border modernization.  We remain very supportive of this concept and eager to see details of its implementation.  

Commercial stakeholders currently navigate seven different IT systems for commercial goods movements. The present system has a lack of cohesive strategy, as Canadian importers and exporters regularly struggle with myriad systems and overlapping regulations that impact their businesses on a daily basis. 

The solutions – some of which are being tried now – include: 

  1. Better harmonization of different agencies/departments and mandates, especially of their IT systems.  
  2. A significant investment in technology to make information available at all ports and to capture data on a system-wide basis. 
  3. Continued investment in border officers to ensure an adequate and well-trained workforce.  
  4. Improvements in transparency to benefit users and the various agencies involved.
  5. Investment in the physical infrastructure to facilitate more modern border processes, i.e.: dedicated lanes for “trusted shippers” who should be segregated from the general population at border crossings. 
  6. Aggressive implementation of the Single Window Initiative (SWI) will benefit users while maintaining federal information requirements.
  7. Move ahead with the implementation of the promised CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management program which was introduced as a program to “provide a modern interface enabling a simplified importation process, thereby increasing visibility and reducing costs for importers.”  and which should produce important efficiencies for users as well as government.  

Trade Gateways  

As our economy recovers and trade volumes climb, there is an opportunity to craft much improved regional strategies to increase the efficiency of our trade corridors. These corridors are a combination of private and public facilities, suggesting the need for increased collaboration among the various participants.  

The promise of infrastructure investments by the federal government, individual ports and private facility owners could materially improve Canada’s competitiveness if a clear plan existed. But these investments will be much influenced by an actual strategy in the Canada Trade Gateways.   

Armed with better information, port users will be better able to contribute to a modern sectoral strategy for Canada’s national gateways, especially regarding infrastructure investments which will enhance productivity and competitiveness. 

Specific sectors requiring attention  

While 2020 – 21 has been a stressful year for all modes of transportation, it has been especially disruptive for our marine and aviation sectors. Addressing the myriad issues confronting these sectors will require new approaches for the federal government and flexible policies for an indeterminant recovery period. 

Marine: 

Considering how critical the marine industry is to Canadian trade, it is odd that the sector gets less attention and less support from the federal government than others.  This needs to change as this is one of the transportation sectors most disrupted by Covid.  

A lack of focus in the federal government could leave Canadians far behind European and American shippers as economic recovery progresses.  

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) recently declared: “The maritime supply chain is totally disrupted; it is on its knees. The reliability in terms of transit and frequency is the worst ever, predictability is nonexistent…without any planning certainty, managing the supply chain has become a mission impossible. 

The Covid pandemic has overstressed Canada’s marine sector, creating significant congestion and unreliability.  It has also created the opportunity for price escalation (price gouging, in fact) which is driving up costs borne by Canadian exporters, importers and consumers. The windfall profits being enjoyed by foreign owned carriers are coming directly from the pockets of Canadians. 

According to Reuters, the average price world-wide to ship a 40-foot container has more than quadrupled from a year ago, to $8,399 as of July 1.  Prices have surged 53.5% since the first week of May. 

The congestion problem creates unexpected impacts:  it is so severe that shipping interests have been forced to ask for a postponement of environmental measures which they have previously supported, such as the transient killer whale recovery strategy. Unanticipated impacts such as these further our conviction that aggressive measures by the federal authority are called for, and not merely for economic reasons. 

An assertive national policy towards the sector is needed to ensure that trade volumes, shipping costs and service levels are brought back to normal to the benefit of the entire nation. 

Specific measures: 

1 Transparency 

A significant problem in marine shipping is the lack of on-time performance.  Container ships arrived on-time only 45% of the time, even before Covid 19 struck. Since then, the situation has been more chaotic and unpredictable. Vessels arriving early or late contributes to congestion, lack of reliability and costs.  

Requiring consistent data regarding traffic, waiting times, etc. would be a major benefit to shippers, ports, and terminals.  Modern technology makes real-time tracking possible.  

The federal government should require reporting, monitor, and make available to users, data on productivity and efficiency in Canadian ports.  

2 Act immediately to restrict price-gouging behaviour by marine carriers.  

Emboldened by the chaos in international shipping, carriers have taken the opportunity to impose new charges on shippers with little explanation or justification. Listed prices to ship from China to major ports in Europe and the U.S. West Coast are closer to $12,000 a container. Some companies say they are being charged $20,000 for last-minute agreements to get goods onto outbound vessels. 

These increased costs impact Canadian business and consumers.  Canadian transport and competition authorities should vigorously respond to protect our national interests, as authorities are doing in other jurisdictions.  

 3 “Canada first” prioritization of cargo through Canadian ports  

In the Covid-created chaos affecting supply chains, Canadian port and rail facilities are sometimes so constricted by US-destination cargos that they are squeezing out Canadian shippers.  Normal competitive market philosophies are not appropriate for this period of essential rebuilding – Canadian transportation networks are a critical factor of national recovery.  

This is a concept which would be implemented in the U.S. without hesitation. Facilities built and financed by Canadians should serve Canadian needs before they are rented out to other countries.  

4 Regulatory cooperation with U.S. 

Often our national interests conform to those of the U.S., where the regulatory authorities are far more aggressive in defending shippers. The Federal Maritime Commission in the USA and other regulators are investigating pricing and capacity management practices of shipping lines. Recent US inquiries into container imbalances and unfair demurrage charges have not been followed by any Canadian action.  Close cooperation between the national governments is critical.  A recent Executive Order by the U.S. President suggests new aggressive postures by regulatory agencies which, if not matched by Canada, will produce sharp price differences between Canadian and U.S. markets, with obvious competitive implications.  

Aviation:  

Without a strong federal commitment to a comprehensive aviation recovery plan, both the air sector and Canada’s overall competitiveness face considerable risk.   

Air transportation is a critical industry in Canada, enabling the movement of people and cargo, which are often combined in commercial aircraft.  On the eve of Covid 19 the sector was accounting for 256,000 direct jobs and contributes $23.4 billion in direct Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

A characteristic of aviation is high fixed costs which are not sensitive to traffic volumes.  Airports must clear snow to allow flights regardless of how many passengers are on the aircraft.  This reality is present in all aspects of the aviation system.  During the Covid crisis passenger demand collapsed, which had a serious impact on cargo capacity as about 50% of cargo previously traveled in the bellies of passenger flights.  Dedicated cargo flights eventually replaced some of this capacity, but at much greater costs.  

The catastrophic declines in passenger volume left the sector unable to charge enough users to break even.  As a result, carriers, airports and NavCanada were all forced to borrow to maintain operations. This accumulation of debt represents a major threat to aviation’s recovery.   

Through the Covid crisis, government support was targeted at workforce retention and retaining essential services.  Later the Crown began providing specific aid to individual companies (Air Canada, Westjet, Air Transat, Sunwing, Porter). In the recovery phase the support needs to be “agnostic” designed to drive down system costs to the benefit of all users.  Ensuring airports and air navigation costs do NOT spike upwards is one of the most important measures the government can enact.  

  1. Provide financial support for the facilities – airports, air navigation – to ensure their heavy debt obligations do not produce sharply higher fees in the next two years as demand recovers. 
  2. Benchmark Canadian aviation against U.S. system costs, recognizing the danger of increased traffic diversion to (subsidized) U.S. airports; a particularly serious trend in a “user pay” Canadian system where fixed costs are borne by users regardless of their numbers. Adjusting policies to reflect changes in the air cargo sector.    
  3. Canada needs a specific strategy for maximizing the contribution made by air cargo to the economy.  Some elements:  

4 The indefensible airport rent system 

The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) has never supported the concept of airport rent which is simply a thinly veiled tax on users. This policy has forced airports to levy charges far greater than those the government imposed on travelers when it ran the airports itself.  Billions of dollars have been extracted from travelers through this hidden tax.  Normally “rent” is a payment received by a landlord, but the federal government does not function as such. It provides no upkeep of airport properties and assumes no risks. Canadians are paying their own government for the right to use facilities that they have already paid for as taxpayers.  The temporary suspension of airport rent during the crisis should be formalized as a permanent termination of this unjustifiable charge.  

At CIFFA, it is our hope that an elected government’s priorities will lie in executing the existing framework with considerable efficiency and excellence.  In places where the federal government agencies are directly involved in economic activity, it is critical that they execute with very high levels of reliability and timeliness.  This will address the most critical issue in Canada today: our economic recovery from the chaos and losses of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

CIFFA member and global professional services firm Aon plc provides a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. 

In a ransomware attack, threat actors gain unauthorized access to company networks and files using malicious software or malware. After gaining access, these cybercriminals encrypt files making them inaccessible, and demand a ransom payment in cryptocurrency in exchange for the digital key code(s) to decrypt the files.  

Ransomware attacks have become more advanced in their approach, including pre-emptive measures intended to coerce ransom payment such as targeting and destroying data backups to prevent restoration, and stealing data prior to encryption with the threat of public release. This leaves many victims with the difficult choice of either permanent loss of data and extended business disruption or paying a ransom to regain access and restore operations.  

For many ransomware victims, paying the ransom may seem like the only viable option. The possible consequences of business disruption and loss or public exposure of sensitive data are severe, and can include loss of revenue, breached contracts, missed deadlines, failure to meet customer or client expectations, damage to goodwill, or even, in the most extreme examples – such as with healthcare providers – possible loss of life. 

The most recent statistics on ransomware are staggering. The total number of global ransomware reports increased by 715.8% from 2019 to 2020². Ransom payments have risen as well, making a 60% leap in payment value since last year³. Some of the most sophisticated ransomware attack groups and malware variants are now averaging over $780,000 per payment. At these rates and amounts, it is no surprise that the predicted damages from ransomware are expected to be $20 billion in 2021. 

The Payment Conundrum  

Amid this cyber crisis, law enforcement has remained mostly neutral on the issue of ransom payments. Generally, law enforcement provides cautionary guidance around the risks associated with paying a ransom, warning that either the supplied decryption files may not work, or that the payment of a ransom may attract further exploitation. But, there is also consensus across law enforcement that those experiencing ransomware events are victims. Not surprisingly, to date there is scant record of prosecutions, much less convictions, of ransomware victims who have chosen to pay a ransom to recover critical files or restore the operation of critical systems. Until recently, the difficult decisions facing victimized entities (or those companies participating in incident response activities) was not whether it was a legal risk to pay a ransom.  

Rather, the primary focus in the ransomware conundrum was whether it made business sense to pay the ransom and, if so, how to both engage with the threat actor to negotiate and navigate the often-unfamiliar cryptocurrency landscape to facilitate payment. Post-payment, the most difficult issue typically facing a victimized entity was the often time-consuming and technically taxing decryption process.  

Ransomware is, by multiple measures, the top cyber threat facing businesses today¹. Unlike data breach, ransomware is a risk without discretion. Any company that either requires access to critical data, or faces loss or hardship in the event of business interruption is a potential ransomware victim. 

If law enforcement was involved or notified by a victimized entity at any point throughout this process, it was generally in the hope of receiving guidance (based on experience with similar previous attacks) or justice (if law enforcement could identify the ransomware threat actors). While law enforcement remained eager to work with victimized companies, the increase in ransomware attacks forced the selective prioritization of which cases to handle. Those cases that law enforcement could take on were appropriately focused on their mandate of criminal investigation and prosecution. This mandate, combined with the deluge of ransomware matters, ensures that victimized entities that notify and work with law enforcement still handle most aspects of the incident response investigation themselves, including root-cause analysis of the incident, the scope of the intrusion, and restoration of the business.  

Risk Mitigation Strategies  

Ransomware attackers often operate with the same discipline and approach of a traditional business, except in a criminal venture with criminal intent. Threat actors typically choose the path of least resistance to achieve their business goals, attacking vulnerable companies taking advantage of common exploits, or a lack of cyber defense and preparedness. To help mitigate the risk of falling victim to ransomware and in an effort to better prepare for a ransomware incident, consider these eight tips:  

  1. Be proactive – Being victimized by ransomware is a jarring experience. It tests an organization’s emotional responses to crisis, escalation procedures, technical prowess, business continuity preparedness, and communication skills, especially because the organization must sometimes interact directly with the attackers. Ensure that the Incident Response (IR) Plan/Playbooks, and/or Business Continuity Plan/Disaster Recovery Plan has been recently assessed, reviewed, and updated. But, most important, these plans and playbooks must be tested through simulated practice across realistic scenarios to help improve resilience.  
  2. Educate employees on cyber security and phishing awareness – Phishing is still a leading cause of unauthorized access to a corporate network, including as the entry point for ransomware attacks. Training users to not only spot a phishing email, but to also report the email to their internal cyber security team is a critical step in detecting the early stages of a ransomware attack. Companies must create a culture where all employees feel responsible for enterprise security, and are encouraged to participate in proactive detection of, and defense against, threats, risks, and attacks. Phishing awareness is a critical cornerstone to such a cyber secure culture. 
  3. Employ multi-factor or “two-step” authentication – Multi-factor authentication (e.g., a password – something employees know, plus an authentication key – something employees have) across all forms of login and access to email, remote desktops, external-facing or cloud-based systems and networks (e.g., payroll, time-tracing, client engagement) should be a requirement for all users. In many—but not all—instances, the presence of multi-factor authentication may even prevent the exploitation of stolen login credentials because the attacker does not also possess the necessary second piece of the login process, the authentication key. It is important to ensure proper multi-factor configuration. Multi-factor access controls can be even more effective if coupled with the use of virtual private network (VPN) interaction. 
  4. Keep systems patched and up-to-date – The rudimentary cyber hygiene activity of system updates and patching often falls by the wayside, especially as operations and security teams are stretched, systems and endpoints age and move towards legacy status, and new systems, hardware, and applications are introduced as businesses grow, mature, merge and divest. There are—and will continue to be—major unpatched vulnerabilities that allow attackers to compromise corporate networks. Attackers can often identify a vulnerable system with a simple scan of the Internet using free tools. They engage in this exercise broadly and indiscriminately, looking for exploitable systems on which to unleash ransomware and other cyber attacks.  
  5. Install and properly configure endpoint detection and response tools – Tools that focus on endpoint detection and response can help decrease the risk of a ransomware attack and are useful as part of incident investigation and response. However, many entities that invest in these tools fail to properly configure them to be of assistance in the event of a cyber event and investigation. Properly configured security tools give a much greater chance of detecting, alerting on, and blocking threat actor behavior.  
  6. Design your networks, systems, and backups to reduce the impact of ransomware – Ensure your privileged accounts are strictly controlled. Segment your network to reduce the spread of adversaries or malware. Have strong logging and alerting in place for better detection and evidence in the event of incident response. Having a technical security strategy that is informed by architects that know the latest attacks and adversary trends is important, as is the use of continuous threat intelligence monitoring in open source and on the dark web.  
  7. Consider risk transfer options – Because a ransomware attack can threaten an entity’s reputation and goodwill, the complete risk of ransomware can never be fully mitigated or transferred. However, in practicing ransomware preparedness, organizations should consider obtaining appropriate cyber insurance coverage. In doing so, organizations should review how coverage addresses indemnification for financial loss, business interruption, fees and expenses associated with the ransom and incident response, as well as considerations for service providers, such as the ability to work with incident response providers of choice. 
  8. Pre-arrange your third-party response team – an effective ransomware response will often include all or some third-party expertise across the disciplines of forensic incident response, legal counsel, crisis communications and ransom negotiation and payment. Seeking out, vetting and engaging with these professionals during a ransomware incident places additional burden on an already strained enterprise, and is ineffective and inefficient when every second counts and every decision is critical. As time is of the essence, it is critical to pre-vet and pre-engage a team of professionals to monitor and be ready to respond to a ransomware attack when it happens.  

Sources 

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