I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak as part of the committee business. My name is Daniel Dagenais. I'm the vice-president of operations at the Montreal Port Authority.
I want to start by expressing my sincere appreciation for the port workers, seagoing personnel and all supply chain workers. They've been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that all sectors of the industry across the country can continue to operate.
I also want to thank the government for its efforts to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians. In particular, I want to thank the officials and departmental staff with whom we're in contact. They've remained available and attentive during our many calls over the past few weeks.
Naturally, I also want to thank our clients and business partners for their trust, along with our workers, who have also demonstrated their trust over the past few weeks.
The Port of Montreal is the second largest port in Canada. It's the only container port on the St. Lawrence. Our continental markets for goods are mainly Quebec, Ontario and the American midwest.
A port is a hub for goods, where all modes of transportation come together. Every day, 2,500 trucks come to the port to pick up and deliver goods. Two thousand ships a year come to anchor in our waters. Every week, 60 or 80 trains pass through the interchange area to deliver goods.
The Port of Montreal's operations generate economic benefits of about $2.6 billion and support almost 19,000 direct and indirect jobs. Last year, in 2019, over $100 billion worth of goods crossed our docks. It was the sixth record year for the Port of Montreal. However, March 2020 will certainly go down in history for us. We had record volumes in 2019, since the amount of goods kept increasing. In the first quarter of 2020, the volumes were already 5% higher than in 2019.
In March, the Canadian and Quebec governments recognized the essential status of the movement of goods. As a result, our employees were excluded from lockdown orders and closure instructions. We had to quickly adapt our business processes to comply with safety instructions.
COVID-19 is having and will have an undeniable impact on the Canadian and Quebec economies and on supply chains. For the supply chain players, the pandemic, and the resulting health crisis, is primarily a challenge for workers and employers.
What happened at the start of the pandemic? The winning conditions for dealing with this type of disaster mainly involved risk management, which had to be embedded in our culture. We needed a business continuity plan with a pandemic component, meaning the implementation of a series of health measures such as hand washing, physical distancing, the closure of our offices, and the distribution of personal protective equipment and material. Of course, we've done just about everything that you've already heard about. I echo what Mr. Lessard said earlier about the measures taken.
In addition, we've been working hard for a very long time to diversify our markets, specifically to ensure proper crisis and risk management and to thereby better withstand economic shocks and price increases.
Early on, the Montreal Port Authority mobilized its management team and employees. It established crisis management at the strategic level, but also a tactical committee on the ground to find the right measures to implement. These groups were mobilized and these committees were created to build on the trust that we already have in our workers. This aligns with our culture of resilience.
We needed to establish our priorities, get our messages out and properly convey them to our employees. Once we had mobilized our direct contacts, we mobilized our operators. Naturally, we had to remain attentive and support their activities, but also maintain the flow and align our guidelines.
We have only one work disruption to report. It happened early on, when there was a great deal of confusion and information seeking. What has made the difference is the consistent message that employees clearly play a key role in our actions and responses. This strategy has worked well not only with our employees, but also with our tenants' employees.
The third item that I want to talk about is the collaboration among all the supply chain players. We must communicate and remain factual, responsive and sensitive to concerns. Early on, we started listening. The logistics chain players asked us to work with them to resolve anticipated issues, such as shortages of containers and storage space. We quickly took stock of available space together with the CargoM logistics and transportation cluster in the Montreal area.
We also kept track of the availability of containers to avoid running out and to ensure that Canadian exporters could export their goods. As a result, there's no crisis. Traffic continues to flow through our facilities. To date, the Port of Montreal remains fully operational and free of congestion.
In addition to the collaboration with the cluster and the logistics chain players around the Port of Montreal, work was done at the national level with the network of port authorities. We also reached out to our international partners to identify, understand and share information. We tried to identify best practices and draw inspiration from them, while establishing partnerships. A great deal of work was done with the Port of Antwerp and chainPORT, an association of ports interested in logistics and innovation.
At the same time, we worked with the Scale AI and IVADO Labs innovation supercluster to create tools to help us distinguish goods and mobilize the logistics chain to improve the flow of goods through our facilities. These goods are often critical to combatting COVID-19.
In conclusion, I want to add that our infrastructure remained open. Our infrastructure is strategic, and it must be adapted to long economic cycles. We must meet needs, which requires a business continuity plan. We must then establish priorities, communicate, and maintain our clients' trust in the logistics chain.