Canadian Manufacturing

Transportation sees slow, but steady road ahead

Shippers and carriers are getting back on track as Canada pulls out of an economic slump. But it’s going to be a slow ride to full recovery, according to economists and major industry players at a recent conference on the future of Canada’s transportation sector.

“We’re expecting the Canadian economy to grow this year just above three per cent,” said RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue.

He said some of that growth will be spurred by government spending and the Bank of Canada’s rising interest rates, which he expects will reach 2.5 per cent by the end of 2011.

“There’s been strong fiscal stimulus but we’re also going to see businesses picking up the slack later on next year,” Hogue said, adding the stronger job market will translate into increased consumer spending.

A projected four per cent climb in the global economy will also benefit Canada’s natural resources exports over the next two years, Hogue said.

His optimistic forecast was good news for attendees and fellow speakers at the Transportation Strategy conference in Toronto.

“I think we’ve come through the darkest days,” said Ginnie Venslovaitis, HBC’s director of transportation operations, who participated in an expert panel at the conference.

She projected a “modest growth” in volumes over the coming year, adding the company is planning several projects for 2011.

But not everyone in the sector is confident enough to take on new endeavors.

Maritime Ontario Freight Lines Ltd. President Doug Munro said even though business is picking up, “there’s always going to be an overhang for all sectors, whether auto manufacturing, restaurant or retail.”

He said the upward movement is “enough to replace equipment we have that needs to be replaced, but we wouldn’t be trying to grow based on it.”

Transportation Strategy: Planning for 2011 in Uncertain Times was hosted by nulogx, a provider of transportation management solutions.

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