Earlier today online, Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), and Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), discussed the essential nature of port services, the many actions taken by the MPA to adapt to the global pandemic, the slowdown in port activities that is starting to be felt on the docks and the key role that the Port of Montreal will play in the economic recovery. 

Prioritized by governments and recognized as an essential service by world authorities, activities related to the road and marine transportation of goods continue to significantly help maintain local and regional economies. At the Port of Montreal, as in all ports, life goes on despite the many important changes dictated by the health crisis. However, the economic crisis is not without consequences for the organizations at the core of freight transport. The Greater Montreal supply chain and all those that make it up, from carriers to export and import companies to freight forwarders and other stakeholders, are all affected by this unprecedented situation. 

Being at the heart of this supply chain, the Port of Montreal is no exception. On the cruise front, the 2020 season in Montreal is hard hit by the health crisis, as is the case all over the world. Currently, due to the fact that cruise ships cannot come to Canada until July 1st and given the cancellations recently announced by certain cruise lines for the entire season, the MPA can now confirm that approximately 62% of the international passengers expected in 2020 will not be coming to Montreal. Some cruise lines have not yet cancelled their scheduled calls in September or October, and the MPA is also following how the government authorities decisions in this regard are progressing. For an update on the 2020 season, the arrival and departure schedule can be consulted here. https://www.port-montreal.com/en/cruises/arrivals-and-departures

Turning to the volume of goods handled, after operating at full capacity and experiencing a solid first quarter with a 2.5% increase compared to the same period in 2019, in recent weeks the MPA has begun to see the first signs of a slowdown on the docks, even though the intermodal chain is still fully up and running at the Port. The MPA anticipates a 12% drop in freight traffic for 2020, compared with the previous year. As Ms. Vachon explained during the talk, according to the MPAs forecasts, this drop should be followed by a recovery at the end of the year and early 2021. 

Looking beyond the relatively negative short-term economic prospects, ports work on a scope that covers decades and they have always been able to adapt. They will absolutely have a key role to play in the economic recovery. At the Port of Montreal, we will continue to play this role both by stimulating international trade and through major investments such as our container terminal project in Contrecœur, which remains relevant and necessary, said Ms. Vachon. 

Ms. Vachon also reviewed the many actions the MPA has taken to adapt its work methods and ensure the smooth running of port operations, along with the collaborative efforts made by Greater Montreal supply chain stakeholders in the search for joint solutions to ensure seamless trade in these difficult times. 

She also praised the exceptional and essential work carried out by port and logistics workers since the onset of this crisis and thanked them for holding the fort so capably in a trying and unusual context.