Montreal Port Authority boss warns of months of supply chain disruption

Shipping containers are shown at the Port of Montreal, Sunday, April 25, 2021. A general strike at the port is set to begin on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Montreal's port authority boss said supply chain challenges may continue into 2022, but the invasion of Ukraine does not appear to have had a direct impact on the Port of Montreal at this time.

Difficulty accessing containers remains a problem for the shipping industry, said Montreal Port Authority (MPA) president and CEO Martin Imbleau.

"It's not going to be solved in a few months," he said during a news briefing Monday at the annual meeting. "It's going to take a little longer than that."

The problem is not a shortage of containers, but the fact that many containers are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that their cost has risen sharply, Imbleau said.

He added that the situation remains difficult in some west coast ports where there are long waits for ships.

However, the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine does not seem to have had any direct impact on the Port of Montreal for the moment, according to Imbleau.

"At the Port of Montreal, we have very little impact because trade with Russia and Ukraine is quite marginal," he said.

However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine complicates the supply chain.

'There are many Russian and Ukrainian sailors, we must think about them," said Imbleau. "Our concern is about the medium and long term and the impact on the flow of grain and food commodities for different countries."

The MPA did not have to turn back any Russian ships because of Canadian sanctions against Russia.

"We did not have to do that. We had an indication once of a potential ship coming to Montreal that did not turn up. We had no action to take on our side," said Imbleau.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 2, 2022. 

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