CSCSC e-Newsletter

August 27, 2008

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Excerpts: Two Recent Government of Canada Reports

Time for a New National Vision: Opportunities and Constraints for Canada in the Global Movement of Goods, Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications – June 2008
From the report's Executive Summary:
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications began hearings in June 2006 and completed its study of the Canadian container transportation system in April 2008. The Committee was looking for ways to allow Canada’s containerized freight transportation system to become more competitive, so that Canada can attract a greater share of North American container traffic.
The container system in Canada is made up of a number of components – ships, railroads, trucks, container/marine terminals, information technology and labour. The policy environment in which these various components operate is a patchwork of federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions. What the Committee found was that each level of government has a significant impact on each of these components and that each has a vital role to play in ensuring that the system works at an optimal level. In addition, the private sector is a key driver in how the system is financed.
The Committee found that there are a number of areas that require attention in order for the system to operate as a seamless network from coast to coast. These include: improving railroad services; rationalizing a patchwork of trucking regulations across the country; dealing with labour shortages in the industry; updating port policies; improving infrastructure; dealing with environmental issues; and integrating more information technology into the container transportation system. While Canada is in a unique position to take advantage of the expanding container traffic, the Committee recognizes that these challenges will have to be addressed in order for this to take place. 
We strongly believe that container transportation must be viewed as a system and that each part must function efficiently if the supply chain is to flourish. Today, there are fragile links in the system, such as port congestion, system reliability, labour shortages, uncoordinated government policy, and under-utilization of information technology.
Our report looks at these and other issues in terms of national policy and Canada’s place in the international movement of containers. We believe that there is a significant policy role for the federal government to play in further developing this sector. It can provide the leadership role necessary to coordinate efforts among all the players in the container transportation industry.
We offer a number of recommendations in our report for the federal government and system stakeholders for improving container transportation in Canada. These include:
  • the establishment of a National Gateway Council to bring together the players in the container transportation system and governments from across the country to enhance communications, bring efficiencies to the system and market Canada’s transportation system to the world;
  • enhancing the level of service provided by the railroads to shippers;
  • provisions for improving trucking transportation including the use of new technologies as well as harmonizing trucking regulations across the country;
  • increasing the supply of containers to Canadian shippers;
  • broadening the scope to Canada’s port authority policy;
  • incentives to support the growth of shortsea shipping;
  • provision for improving the environment;
  • actions to improve labour relations, and enhance labour training programs; and
  • increased funding for port, gateway and inland terminal projects to provide increased capacity to handle future growth in the container transportation industry.

Full report

Employability in Canada: Preparing for the Future, Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – April 2008
From the report’s introduction:
Increasing Canada’s supply of skilled workers is important not only for economic prosperity, but also to improve the socio-economic situation of individuals whose participation in the workplace is low. With the right skills and anticipated growth in employment opportunities, the future job prospects of Canadians — especially those in under-represented groups — are expected to improve, provided we continue to develop and implement policies that support greater participation in the workplace.

On May 11, 2006, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities agreed to undertake an examination of employability issues in Canada. The Committee examined a myriad of labour supply-side issues, such as worker mobility, seasonal workers, older workers, skilled worker shortages, workplace literacy and the recognition of foreign credentials. Although the initial study was designed to focus on these issues, the study’s scope was quickly broadened to include Aboriginal workers, workers with disabilities, low-income workers, newly arrived immigrants and temporary foreign workers.

There are essentially four ways to ensure that Canada’s supply of skilled workers is sufficient to meet employers’ needs and thereby mitigate what many expect will be a chronic and worsening skills shortages problem in the future:
  1. One way to mitigate the impact of skills shortages is to ensure that the Canadian labour market is able to adjust quickly and that workers’ skills are utilized in their most productive capacity. It is essential that we: broaden human resources planning to better anticipate which skills will be in greatest demand and how this demand can be met; reduce barriers to worker mobility; and provide for greater recognition of Canadian and foreign-born workers’ formal education, skills, occupation-related credentials and prior learning.
  2. We must invest in human capital, with workplace training, post-secondary education, lifelong learning and federally supported skill-acquisition initiatives directed primarily at unemployed individuals.
  3. Another way to augment the supply of skills is to intensify the use of existing skills among under-represented segments of the labour force, by retaining the services of older workers, increasing the participation and employment rates among Aboriginal people and persons with disabilities, reducing work disincentives among low-income workers and extending the working season of those employed in seasonal industries.
  4. Finally, the supply of skills can also be increased by attracting individuals from other countries.
It is our intent that the recommendations in this report will contribute to the development of an effective pan-Canadian employability strategy that will, in the years ahead, meet the labour market needs of employers and of all segments of the working-age population, particularly those with low skills, low incomes and low workforce participation rates. Members of the Committee realize that the development of a pan-Canadian employability strategy will require an ongoing commitment and greater cooperation between federal, provincial and territorial governments. Although some of the recommendations in our report may fall within the purview of provincial/territorial responsibility, this should not be construed as an attempt to extend the reach of the federal government into areas of provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Rather, we simply believe that there is a need for federal leadership in areas of national importance. We recognize the importance of obtaining provincial/territorial consent before taking action, and believe that in the spirit of greater cooperation between both levels of government we can work together to help ensure the future prosperity of Canadians.

Cultural Shifts and Shocks

Is the current culture working for you or against you?
By Chris Irwin, MBA
I recently returned from a trip to Japan, where I lived and worked for a number of years earlier in my career. As much as globalization can have a dulling effect on culture (internationally and corporately), first-hand contact always highlights some of the starker differences.

It was not long before I was reminded of Japan’s underlying excellence in quality and customer service in public transit. My train from the airport into the city was two minutes late leaving: a thunderstorm had disabled a major station in downtown Tokyo. The apology and explanation, in formally polite language, took both verbal and written forms almost immediately. Restaurant service in Japan has also always impressed me, given that there is no tipping, but as a foil to all overgeneralization, we had really bad service one night at dinner.

Nonetheless, my experience working at Tokyo Disneyland around the turn of the millennium provided examples of a strong fit between culture and process improvement. The director of food services for Tokyo Disneyland at the time told me that the baseline for culinary hygiene in Japan was equal to/if not greater than that of the United States. This did not obviate his role in maintaining Disney standards with the introduction of new and innovative food venues, but it certainly lessened the number of food-health issues that required diligent oversight.

In contrast, the early days of Disneyland Paris offer insight into cultural clashes, when Disney attempted to impose a strict dress code on a French workforce.

Many different attributes contribute to corporate culture, including historical issues, industry traits, geographic location, workforce make-up, and more. My conversations with clients often include reference to culture in terms of the VISION (e.g., “We want to build a customer-focused culture”) and/or the STATUS QUO (e.g., “We have a real engineering culture”). Both are important to identify. Once identified, you can start to evaluate the type of change required.

A shift within a culture (e.g., introducing a food-preparation technique to an already hygiene-conscious staff) is much less daunting than a shift of the culture (e.g., banning any form of facial hair on male staff in France). Either way, leadership and communication will play an important role in eventual success. Both scenarios need overt support – by actions and words – from formal and informal leaders. Long-term consistency in this is essential for change in the latter case to truly take hold.

Many of the improvements that promise operational effectiveness necessitate cultural change. This never comes easily. A hard look at the existing culture, and a clear vision, can provide a sense of what you are up against.
Chris Irwin brings value in enabling effective interpersonal communication in sectors that are undergoing change. He helps to reduce interpersonal noise in organizations facing challenges from globalization, technology communications and workforce diversity, including generational differences. He blogs on related issues at (Micro Organizational Behaviour) and can be reached through that website.


Website Links


Council News

Volunteers Needed for Focus Groups, Labour Market Information Phase II Project
Focus-group participants will discuss:
  1. where they currently access labour market information;
  2. how they use this information; and,
  3. how the Council should organize the LMI tools it develops.
Meetings are being held across Canada. (A session in Vancouver has already taken place.)
  • In Montreal – September 3
    From 1:00 to 3:00 pm (lunch from 12:00 to 1:00)
    At Novotel Hotel, near the airport
  • In Toronto – September 4
    From 7:30 to 9:30 pm (light dinner from 6:30 to 7:30)
    At Sandman Hotel, near the airport
    Hosted by APICS Toronto Chapter
  • In Moncton – September 11
    From 1:00 to 3:00 pm (lunch from 12:00 to 1:00)
    At Future Inns Hotel
    Hosted by the Transportation Club of Moncton, Inc.

If you'd like to participate in any of these sessions, contact Beverly Myers, the Council's Program Manager, at or 905-897-6700/1-866-616-3468, ext. 226.

A Low-Risk, High-Return Recruitment Strategy

Wilfrid Laurier University Co-op Program
More than 1,000 organizations recruit annually from Laurier’s diverse student talent pool.

Students apply their insight and knowledge while tackling important business issues over four-month work terms. Organizations benefit by recruiting bright and accomplished students who are committed to making a difference.

Students are available from the following programs:

  • Graduate – MBA
  • Undergraduate – Business, Economics, double-degree programs in Business & Mathematics, and Business & Computing

Through Laurier Co-op, employers have a cost-effective way to meet hiring needs and evaluate potential staff.

For information, contact Laurie Lahn, Marketing Manager, Co-operative Education, at 519-884-0710, ext. 4058 or or, by post, at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario  N2L 3C5. You can also visit to find out more.

Coming Events

Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Annual Global Conference 2008, October 5 to 8, Denver, Colorado
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association and Export Development Canada, EDC Breakfast Information Sessions
Vancouver: October 6
Toronto: October 21
Montreal: November 26
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton Base Tour, October 7, Trenton, Ont.
Montreal (English)
initial: October 7 to 9, November 11 to 13; recurrent: October 8 and 9, November 12 and 13
initial: October 8 to 10; recurrent: October 9 and 10
initial: October 21 to 23; recurrent: October 22 and 23
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20
Montreal (French)
initial: November 18 to 20; recurrent: November 19 and 20

CITT – Toronto Area Council, Speakers Forum: Canadian Supply Chain Success Stories, October 8, 2008, Mississauga, Ont.
initial: October 8; recurrent: October 9
initial: October 22; recurrent: October 23
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, Partners in Project Green: A Pearson Eco-Business Zone, October 15, Mississauga, Ont.
PMAC and DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Sixth Annual International Symposium on Supply Chain Management – Supply Chain Integration: Leadership, Trust and Negotiation, October 15 to 17, Calgary, Alta.
eyefortransport, Sustainable Supply Chain Summit, October 15 to 17, San Francisco, Calif.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, Competitive Bidding Issues, October 20, Whitby, Ont.
Supply Chain Digest, Best Practices in Distribution Center Design, Operations and Management
October 21 and 22: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 28 and 29: Atlanta, Georgia
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Atlantic Public Purchasing Association Chapter, Developing & Managing RFP's in Public Sector, October 21 to 23, Moncton, N.B.
Association chaîne d'approvisionnement et logistique Canada/Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, 8e colloque logistique, October 22 and 23, Montreal, Que.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, World Class Procurement Practices, October 24, Barrie, Ont.
Ontario Institute of the Purchasing Management Association of Canada, 11th Annual Conference: Supply Chain... the Core of Innovation, October 24 and 25, Ajax, Ont.
IE Canada, 77th Annual Conference, Trade Show & Gala: Maximizing the Value in Your Supply Chain, October 27 to 29, Mississauga, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Hwy H2O Conference/Conférence Autoroute H2O, November 4 and 5, Toronto, Ont.
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, National Seminar Series: The State of Logistics Report 2008
November 4: Toronto
November 5: Kitchener
November 12: Vancouver
November 13: Calgary
November 14: Winnipeg
November 26: Montreal (en français)
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Ontario Public Buyers Association, Inc. Chapter, Sourcing in the Public Sector, November 5 to 7, Oakville, Ont.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, Inc., Canada West Chapter, Planning, Scheduling and Requirements Planning, November 5 to 7, Edmonton, Alta.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, November 13 and 14, Chicago, Illinois
WESTAC and Transport Canada, Freight Demand Forecasts: Is Western Canada's Transportation System Up to It?, December 3 and 4, Vancouver, B.C.
Always up to date in our online event listing! 

©2018 Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council
©2018 Conseil canadien sectoriel de la chaîne d'approvisionnement