Calls for solution after CP labor disruption

A brief labor disruption that shut down CP Rail this week has prompted calls for a solution that will prevent labor disruptions from bringing rail travel to a standstill in Canada in the future.

Moe asks for a solution

In a letter to the Premier, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called for a solution to labor disruptions in the future.

“Export and import supply chains have been disrupted by the pandemic, flooding in British Columbia, cold weather, rail service issues, illegal blockades, port congestion and now the brutal war aggression by Russia against Ukraine,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe wrote to the Premier. Justin Trudeau.

“We would also like to meet to discuss longer term measures (such as the railways being considered an essential service, such as the longshoremen after the strikes of the 1990s) to avoid future disruption on the railways Canadians, which can have a crippling impact not only on agricultural production. , but also on Canada’s and the world’s food supply.

Mary worried

“It is very damaging, we are obviously very concerned as a government and I think last week we have shown this in a number of actions that we have taken,” said the minister for agriculture of Saskatchewan, David Marit, to the World-Spectator in an interview.

“When we heard the talks were in trouble, there were four cabinet ministers from the province here who signed a joint letter to our respective federal ministers, encouraging them to consider either back-to-work legislation or arbitration. enforceable, just so the railroad could keep operating and yet the details of crafting a contract could go on, in a respectful way that respects both parties.

“It’s obviously very concerning, it could have a huge impact on our trade relations with many countries, who have told me personally in the meetings I’ve had with them, that one of the biggest challenges and concerns they have to do business with Western Canada is the logistics around delivering the product,” he said.

“We have always tried to address these concerns over the past few years.”

Marit shared her thoughts on the damage the CP worker shutdown could have on Canada’s supply chain.

“There are products that move all the time, a lot of it is delivered just in time. We’ve just been through two years of a pandemic that obviously has led to challenges in the supply chain, in all aspects of it, not just in agricultural products, but all products, forest products, potash , oil and gas come out by rail from here too,” he said.

“This has a huge impact on the economy of the province of Saskatchewan, but also globally. Customers around the world rely on us to deliver products, so when we see disruptions like this, it has a huge impact on us.

“Our concern as a government at the moment is damaging our reputation globally, to be able to deliver products in a timely manner. I know from experience that I have spoken to companies around the world who have also raised this issue as a top concern. Obviously, if it’s a concern for them, it’s something that we as governments have to find a way to address.

“We are an exporting country and we need to have the service there, to provide to get the product to the ports, so that it can be delivered in a timely manner to people around the world who depend on the supply chain. ”

“Over the past two years we have seen the importance of the food supply chain and what it means for countries around the world, so we need to make sure that if we are to be a country renowned for the culture of products in a safe and environmental way, which we do, we must also be top rated for delivering that product. »

He explained how Saskatchewan’s potash production could be affected if the lockout and strike by CP employees continues longer than it has.

“It could have a significant impact on our province, and in terms of what is happening in Europe right now, with Russia invading Ukraine, and we are very concerned about that, but it has an impact. on potash worldwide, the supply chain and also the grain supply from Ukraine,” Marit said.

“This poses a number of challenges where countries around the world that rely on imported food and products, it is of great concern to them as well as just to ensure that the system can operate in a respectful way to meet their needs. , and we’ve heard it from countries and companies around the world where many of them do what we call “just in time delivery”, where the product arrives, they unload it, they process it immediately and it’s ‘left. It’s kind of trying to be a smooth system so when you have a lag it will take a long time to get back to 100%, meanwhile you have ships waiting offshore to be loaded, now what happens is that if that product is not ashore to the terminals that need to be delivered, then that shipment could be pushed back and waited even longer because it will bring another ship to load for something else .

“It is very concerning for us on this aspect and now we are entering spring where many European countries are planning to put a crop in the ground here in the next few weeks to a month.”

“When there’s a lockdown it’s both sides that have to come together and come to an agreement, it’s not who’s right and who’s wrong, there’s issues on both sides that have to be resolved.”

Disruption could impact agriculture sector, says APAS

Bill Prybylski, vice-president and director of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), says he’s concerned about the supply chain, given the recent labor disruption at CP.

“It could be extremely devastating to the supply chain, especially agricultural products, in and out,” Prybylski said.

“Particularly at this time of year, with the fertilizers and chemicals that will be needed on the farm in the next four to six weeks, any disruption in the supply chain is sure to have a detrimental effect on the farm economy. “

With Canada facing supply chain issues that predated the Covid-19 pandemic, Prybylski said the work stoppage of CP employees could have made the problem worse.

“Certainly supply chain issues have come to the fore over the past few months with Covid and that will only make matters worse, there have been areas of the supply chain that have shown that there were weaknesses and improvements to be made and that will only exacerbate the problems,

If a similar labor disruption were to happen again, the country’s agricultural sector would be badly affected, he said.

“From an agricultural point of view, obviously a big problem would be fertilizer, if there is a long closing of the rails, there will be much less fertilizer that will arrive at the places that they need”, said he declared.

“In addition to the chemicals, if the chemicals aren’t in place when we need them, we have a very narrow application window, and if the chemicals aren’t available when we need them, then it would be a missed opportunity and the farms would take a financial hit on it.

Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, The World-Spectator

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