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Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association: 75 Years of Uniting the Industry

Last year, the Canadian freight forwarding and logistics sector brought a sizeable $2.2 billion to the country. It is, therefore, no surprise that thousands of international companies utilise Canadian ports and freights as part of their global trade. In order to meet this demand, there is an increasing necessity for the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, who are on hand to teach, support and represent hundreds of member companies that are a valued part of the international Canadian freight forwarding industry.  

Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) understand the need for flexibility and endurance when it comes to supporting its excess of 250 member companies. Accordingly, CIFFA values every single member, regardless of how big or small their role may be in the overall industry. Throughout their 75-year history, CIFFA has held on to this promise, having been founded in Montreal in September 1948. Since its initiation, they have demonstrated a caring and genuine attitude toward its members, as was encouraged by the small group of freight forwarders who identified a need to create an association that met the demands of the fluctuating industry.  

Consequently, CIFFA grew from a strong set of core principles that are still important today. Firstly, and arguably most importantly, CIFFA’s main focus is to strengthen the freight forwarding industry by supporting its most important element: its members, as the association was founded on an established set of rules that led to a proper arbitration between members and professionals. Moreover, CIFFA was created so that a professional body could stand firmly in the international parliament to represent the industry to the best of its ability. The company has evolved since these founding principles, but the same message still resides. 

From a member’s point of view, there are countless reasons why being part of the team is advantageous to your company and the overall industry. Firstly, nowhere else will you find such a strong international presence, as they have developed an expert reputation for their world-class relations and noteworthy connections to governing bodies. This means that as a member, CIFFA will always be on your side with a promise to represent your business with conviction and fairness. Furthermore, you can feel protected due to a commitment to numerous international standards, such as Freight Forwarders Liability Insurance and load brokers that commit to the FMSCA Surety bond requirement. Therefore, member companies can rest assured knowing that the association is always held accountable and acts responsibly according to its member’s needs.  

As part of representing the industry, CIFFA firmly believes in its members’ education and facilitates an open forum for training and learning. Consequently, they provide state-of-the-art education programs and resources seldom seen elsewhere. Some of their education programs include international freight forwarding courses, that have standardised exams created by industry experts. For members who are looking for something a bit less intense, CIFFA also offers non-exclusive workshops that are more practical, cost-effective, and ideal for those wanting to stay informed of the undulations of the industry. Furthermore, the significance of safety and protection is not lost on the educational aspect of the company, as they provide vital dangerous goods training. The courses in question meet many Canadian and international transport standards, allowing members to acquire specialised certification which is a globally recognised qualification.   

As the association’s main focus is to promote the success of the Canadian freight forwarding industry, they place great effort in instilling the importance of the sector in younger generations. Hence why they are partnered with numerous schools and colleges to help train future generations of freight professionals. A noteworthy example of this would be the CIFFA Internship Program: a fantastic program that puts college students in contact with member firms, so that they can gain valuable work experience for a month as part of the college diploma requirements. In a similar vein, member companies can obtain promising college graduates that hold a CIFFA certificate, which can be achieved through a course with the Schulich School of Business. Such dedication to future freighters is an example of how strongly CIFFA fights for the industry, as they endeavour to leave a strong legacy.  

CIFFA hold regular webinars which bolster the educational aspect of the company. An exciting recent event includes the M2M Webinar, ‘Ensuring Compliance and Quality of Pharmaceutical Transport.’ This is a conference held for members who want to gain knowledge on the latest advancements in risk assessment and tracking in the shipment of pharmaceutical products. This is a good example of how specialised the association will go to meet specific needs. Particularly for such a vital sector, since many pharmaceutical products can contain incredibly sensitive material that can become dangerous when not kept in the right conditions. The audience will also learn about the notorious relationship between GDP regulations and the pharma supply chain, as well as have the opportunity to discuss questions or developments in a live Q&A session, demonstrating the association as a space for an informative dialogue.  

As part of the requirements of CIFFA membership, each company must pledge to follow a professional code of ethics. A common theme throughout the code of ethics is honesty, integrity, and diligence, as they simply ask that each member respects their clients and delivers on their duty. As a prerequisite, this means that all members are held accountable for their business practices, which in turn maintains a safe open forum for united voices, and mains the outstanding reputation of the association. 

CIFFA work tirelessly to accurately represent its members and actively promote their best interests, and the interests of the industry. Thus, the association works hard to champion its member’s rights in an industry that is in a constant state of fluctuation, through the demonstration of a united front for both freight forwarders, load brokers, and carter/drayage companies. On the other hand, CIFFA also proactively liaises with governments, conventions, carriers, and authority standards, both domestically and internationally. Examples of such admirable work include providing insights to the Canada Border Services Agency to aid in the drafting of regulations, as well as collaborating with carriers and governments when drafting key procedures. Most visibly, they provide a united voice for their members and make the Canadian freight industry visible in significant government initiatives and on an international plain.