Transportation is an important component of the Canadian economy because it provides jobs, moves goods and connects people within Canada and around the world.
The transportation and logistics sector is itself a critical part of Canada’s economic base, accounting for nearly $66 billion in gross domestic product, representing more than 4% of Canada’s total gross domestic product, and employing more than 860,000 Canadians in 2013. Additionally, the transportation system moves more than $1 trillion worth of goods each year; its efficiency is an important competitive factor across the economy.
There has recently been a pronounced change in Canada’s trade profile, with implications for transportation. From 2003 to 2013, the manufacturing sector’s share of total exports by value has declined from 57% to 48%, while exports of crude petroleum, iron ore, grain and forestry products have significantly increased. Over the same period, Canada’s imports of manufactured goods from overseas have nearly doubled, while manufactured imports from the U.S. have remained relatively constant. This is reflected in a shift to growing overseas exports of bulk goods and imports of containers that are moving primarily by rail through marine ports, while most Canada-U.S. trade in manufactured goods moves by truck.