Industry profile


This sector comprises establishments primarily engaged in transporting and warehousing goods as well as providing logistics services. It includes the four transportation modes (trucking, rail, air and marine) as well as Postal Services, Couriers and Messengers, and Warehousing and Storage. 

The North American Classification Systems (NAICS) codes are:

  • 48 - 49 Transportation and Warehousing

Statistical Summary

TransportationFootnote * and Warehousing - NAICS 48 and 49
(millions CDN $, employment in thousands)
Economic Indicators20072008200920102011% Change 2010-11CAGR 2007-11
Gross Domestic Product57,70857,88455,33857,56959,8043.9%0.9%
- Truck 16,40816,12615,21916,33016,9653.9%0.8%
- Air 5,3305,5415,3425,8026,1626.2%3.7%
- Rail 5,7945,3434,6365,1785,6158.4%-0.8%
- Couriers and messengers 3,1413,2633,4513,5503,6683.3%4.0%
- Warehousing and storage 2,1692,1172,1302,0862,2357.1%0.8%
- Water transportation 1,0381,0739249559923.9%-1.1%
Sales 123,195131,995116,693123,312134,8239.3%2.3%
Employment 686.7693.9676.8670.7682.61.8%-0.1%
Business enterprise R&D801239455561.8%-8.5%
Capital Investment 10,87410,8458,0428,9409,3284.3%-3.8%

Source: Statistics Canada

Definition: Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)

Economic Overview

Demand for transportation, warehousing and logistics services originates from all sectors of the economy and is directly affected by fluctuations in economic activity and trade patterns.

Domestic freight moves primarily by truck (70%) and rail (30%). Air and marine modes mostly handle international freight. Trucking is comprised of a significant number of small for-hire carriers and owner-operators, and some medium and large size for-hire companies that operate fleets of trucks and offer comprehensive logistic services. Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway are the two main railways that serve the national market, offering services such as intermodal transportation, logistics, and brokerage services. There are also 36 short-line and regional railways operating in Canada. 

Four major ports accounted for 99% of international container traffic: Vancouver (54%), Montreal (29%), Halifax (9%) and Prince Rupert (7%).  Air transportation is mostly used for moving high value and perishable goods or to rush orders on short notice.  Eleven air carriers serve Canada's North, which is highly reliant on air transportation for year round supply.  Some of the 26 largest airports in the country handle approximately 90% of all passenger traffic as well as freight.  In 2011, air transportation carried 78.4 million passengers and 739,000 tonnes of freight.  

Industries rely on transportation and logistics network to deliver rapid, integrated and secure solutions to leverage their global supply chains. While some firms retain in-house capacity for their transportation and logistics needs, many outsource these services to companies that can provide transportation, warehousing, storage, shipments consolidation, packing, labelling, brokerage, customs clearance and international freight forwarding services.

The ability to respond to manufacturers' just-in-time needs and small shipment requirements, and provide extensive logistics services have distinguished courier firms. Demand for their services have increased as a result of more stringent regulations and security measures for international cargo, as well as growing complexity in managing the supply chain.

Major Trends and Issues Facing the Industry

Canada is particularly well situated to capture trade opportunities emerging from developing economies and act as a gateway to North America. The country's transportation network is well developed and its services are diversified. The efficiency of the transportation network is complemented by gateways and trade corridors which optimise the competitiveness of the system. 

While the United States remains our main trading partner, changing terms of trade with other countries will continue to have a direct impact on demand for transportation, warehousing and logistics services on different trade routes. 

The development and adoption of technology is resulting in better efficiency, reliability, sustainability, safety and security for all modes of transportation, warehousing and for logistic activities. Transportation and logistic providers are increasingly adopting advanced technologies and innovative processes to retain their competitive advantage. They are aiming at reducing costs, improving services and decreasing their carbon footprint.

Adequate capacity in the country's infrastructure is key to support current and future trade needs. Investments required to upgrade existing infrastructure and to adapt to the ever-growing traffic volume represent a significant challenge for all levels of government.


For more information please refer to Transport Canada annual publication Transportation in Canada