By Gary Vince, President, CIFFA

The message Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association has for its members is Keep Changing.

Looking back on last year, I think we would all agree that the rate of change was expediential on all fronts from regulatory through to innovation and technology.

On the regulatory front we saw the further enhancement of Air Cargo Security and the introduction of 100 per cent cargo screening and a new known consignor category. This has created challenges for forwarders and carriers alike while our customers continue to rely on our forwarding expertise and guidance to ensure their cargo moves efficiently and cost effectively. On a positive note, CIFFA’s fully revised security training took flight, with members’ customers signing up for Authorized Cargo Representative training.

Both air and marine freight faced challenges this year with the introduction of e-Manifest and eHBL. The CIFFA team has spent countless hours trying to mitigate what can only be considered a spectacularly unsuccessful launch of this new regulatory program. As I write this, Canada Border Services Agency is making more changes to the roll-out of the initiative – with significant consequences for every member. The association remains as committed to informing both CBSA and members in 2017 as we were in 2016

Ocean freight was not without its unique challenges with the Hanjin bankruptcy and the global introduction in July of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) VGM regulations. CIFFA again was called into action to help mitigate some of the confusion which arose from Canadian regulations for SOLAS and to help inform global standards that were at times unclear and without direction. Not only did the association host workshops and information sessions but we led the industry with simple but important clarifications to our Standard Trading Conditions that were voted into effect at the June 2016 annual general meeting.

A key take-away from our 2015 strategic planning session was that the association positioned itself as trusted advisors to government and industry. Further to our submission to the Canada Transportation Act review which was tabled in the House of Commons last February as the Emerson Act, I was proud to have been invited to represent the global logistics sector at roundtable sessions hosted last spring by Minister Garneau.

As further evidence of CIFFA’s increased visibility, Ruth Snowden was invited to testify to the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on the subject of a northern trade corridor in December.

2017 will see even more innovation on the education front.  With the successful launch of the CIFFA / Schulich management training curriculum last year, we met members’ growing needs to help build bench strength in our supervisors and management ranks, preparing for the future.

This year we’re introducing virtual classroom options to facilitate management learning for those who can’t find three days in their work week to attend a classroom based learning.  Interactive and facilitator led, this leading edge delivery method will serve members across the country.

One thing that doesn’t change much and for which we are grateful, is the support of the membership.  Look through this membership directory, with its new corporate profiles and growing list of members. Regular freight forwarding membership is targeted to grow again this year as forwarders turn to CIFFA for representation and to build community through fabulous networking events. Associate members seek opportunities to meet with their forwarder customers and make their name known. We’re looking forward to excellent gala dinners, sporting days on the links and maybe even bowling as the regional committees prepare for another event filled year.