Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is calling on all parties to negotiate an immediate end to the strike at the Port of Vancouver and other ports in British Columbia.
In their June 28, 2023, statement, Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Labour, and Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transportation said that “Everyone — the employer, the union, the mediators, and the government — understands the urgency and what is at stake for Canadians and our supply chains.”
Given that the federal government understands what is at stake, CME is urging them to intervene now to reassure manufacturers that they will not bear the brunt of a labour dispute that is beyond their control. CME cautions that a strike of this magnitude not only disrupts the Canadian economy but damages the country’s global trading reputation, hurts already fragile supply chains, and puts jobs at risk.
“Once again manufacturers are being held hostage and paying the cost of a labour disruption at one of Canada’s transportation hubs,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME. “We need government action now to prevent permanent damage to our economy and to Canada’s reputation as a serious trading partner.”
The impact of this labour disruption, which began July 1, is being felt by manufacturers across Canada. Sixteen per cent of the country’s total goods, worth approximately $500 million, is being disrupted every day.
All manufacturing sectors are affected by the strike, from automotive, to energy, to parts manufacturers, to consumer goods.
“Hanging in the balance are the livelihoods of Canada’s 1.7 million manufacturing workers, their businesses, their customers, and the communities they support,” CME said in a statement.
CME is also asking the federal government to work with industry on legislative reforms that will discourage future disruptions to Canada’s critical trade infrastructure. Designating ports, rail lines, and all other transportation infrastructure as essential, and limiting when and where labour and other disruptions can occur, will engender the stability manufacturers need.
“If we do not seriously address the root problems of Canada’s transportation network disruptions, and eliminate the incentives to time and game labour disruptions to inflict maximum economic pain, then it will just continue to be Groundhog Day – where every six months a disruption occurs, and manufacturers and Canadians are left to pay the economic costs,” added Darby.
These repeated disruptions have long-term consequences. They threaten to undermine investor confidence in Canada, leading to reduced business investment and slower economic growth. It cannot go on,” concluded Darby.