Federal government watching for Canadian port backlogs

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says she is keeping a close eye on the pace of trade at Canadian ports for signs of strain.

While Freeland suggested Thursday she hasn’t seen difficulties similar to those south of the border, she does say the government is mindful of supply-chain issues in the Canadian economy.

She also sounded an upbeat note about Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

The recovery has come with a rebound in consumer spending for goods, which has put pressure on shipping companies and ports trying to keep up with demand.

At the same time, ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the globe throw a wrench into the movement of goods. This affects inventories of in-demand consumer products and the delivery of parts needed to build things like cars, and pushes up transportation costs.

All that drives up overall consumer prices.

LA working 24/7

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to have the Port of Los Angeles run round-the-clock to ease constraints that have put upward pressure on prices for goods as companies pass on higher costs. Biden also called on companies to do more themselves.

Freeland said she discussed supply-chain concerns with her global counterparts, including Hong Nam-ki from South Korea and Janet Yellen of the United States, during meetings this week in Washington.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Freeland said Canadians should be confident in the country’s economic recovery while noting some headwinds.

“Turning an economy back on in Canada, and also around the world, is inevitably uneven and that natural unevenness is compounded by the fourth wave of the coronavirus,” she said at Canada’s embassy in the American capital.

“We need to be realistic about that, mindful of that. But I think we can also have a very confident outlook about Canada’s economic resilience, and about the strength of our recovery.”

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem also attended the meetings between world finance ministers and central bankers as the latter group looks to manage higher inflation.

Annual inflation rates have run above the Bank of Canada’s comfort zone since April, reaching 4.1 per cent in August. The central bank expects readings higher than its target of roughly two per cent through the rest of the year.