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Research Project

The Value of Commercial Marine Shipping to Canada

In This Report, You’ll Learn About

  • The impact of the marine shipping industry on the lives of Canadians in the past, present, and future
  • How the marine shipping industry affects Canadians in different regions across the country, and the linkages to international economies
  • The economic, cultural, environmental, and security impacts of marine shipping from local, regional, and national perspectives
  • Trends that may increase or decrease shipping activity in Canada and around the world


This second report commissioned by Clear Seas and produced by the Council of Canadian Academies examines the value that Canadians receive from marine shipping. The study examines a scope that extends beyond economic impacts and draws conclusions about how marine shipping contributes much to Canadians’ daily lives – whether or not they live in coastal communities.

The report was developed by a multidisciplinary and multisectoral panel of ten experts (the Panel). Guided by Mary Brooks, Professor Emerita, Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie University (Halifax NS) the Panel examined the best available evidence on marine shipping and its value for more than a year.

Overall, this study confirms how marine shipping’s contribution to the lives of Canadians and the Canadian economy is frequently underestimated.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

By moving goods and people, marine shipping has played a formative role in Canada’s history. Today, despite other competing modes of commercial transportation, marine shipping remains an important part of Canada’s economy and culture.

The regional and local impacts of marine trade and shipping employment are unevenly distributed across Canada. Some negative cultural, environmental, and security impacts tend be concentrated locally.

Commercial marine shipping is evolving in response to global and domestic social trends. The overall effect of these trends will likely increase future shipping activity in Canada.

Result Highlights

The national economic impact of marine shipping is equal to approximately 1.8% of the Canadian economy or about $30 billion.  

Marine shipping transports about 20% of Canadian exports and imports by dollar value. 

The GDP of Canada’s marine shipping industry is $3 billion. 

The marine shipping industry in Canada is a direct and indirect source of income for nearly 100,000 jobs accounting for $4.6 billion in labour income. 

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