More than half of small businesses in Canada are reporting that the ongoing strike at the Vancouver Port is having a significant impact on their operations, according to a survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The survey, which began on July 6 and will conclude on July 15, has received responses from 1,414 participants. In response to the survey results, CFIB issued a news release on July 11 urging the federal government to prioritize the resolution of the strike, as 75% of businesses expressed their concerns about the lack of progress in negotiations.
The strike at the Vancouver Port is causing major disruptions for businesses at a time when supply chains are just starting to recover from the disruptions caused by the pandemic, according to CFIB President Dan Kelly. Many businesses are worried about missing sales, facing delays in production and orders, and being unable to export their products due to the strike. As a result, CFIB is calling on the federal government to step in and take action to quickly resolve the strike and ensure that shipments can resume as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, U.S. dock workers are showing solidarity with their Canadian counterparts by refusing to handle Canadian-bound cargo that is being rerouted to Seattle. Willie Adams, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) international president, confirmed that the U.S. West Coast chapter of the union will not unload Canadian cargo in support of the striking workers in British Columbia. Adams made this announcement during a rally in Vancouver on July 9, stating that offloading Canada-bound cargo at ports in Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland, or Los Angeles will not take place.
The strike, initiated by over 7,000 port workers represented by ILWU on Canada Day, is impacting more than 30 ports in British Columbia. The strike has disrupted operations at the Port of Prince Rupert and the Port of Vancouver, which are two of Canada’s busiest ports for exporting natural resources and commodities, as well as importing raw materials. Employees are demanding higher wages and protection against the contracting out of work and automation.
The consequences of the strike are not limited to Canada. Nutrien Ltd., the world’s largest producer of fertilizer, has been directly affected by the strike, leading the company to reduce its production due to the loss of export capacity. Nutrien warned that further reductions in operation may occur if the strike continues. Additionally, the Bank of Canada is expected to increase the key interest rate on July 12, which could exacerbate inflation issues in conjunction with supply chain disruptions and fuel inflation.
According to the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), the strike is resulting in about $500 million in disrupted trade per day, with an estimated total cost of $5.5 billion over 11 days. CME stated that all manufacturing sectors, including automotive, energy, parts manufacturing, and consumer goods, are being affected. The strike not only impacts the Canadian economy but also damages the country’s global trading reputation, disrupts fragile supply chains, and poses a risk to jobs and communities.
In response to the strike, Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan has called for the resumption of talks between the two sides with the assistance of mediators. Additionally, governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with business organizations, are urging the federal government to enact legislation to end the strike and mitigate its impacts.
The strike at the Vancouver Port continues to have far-reaching effects on various sectors, posing significant challenges for businesses and the economy. The resolution of the strike stands as a top priority for the federal government, as it is crucial to maintaining the smooth functioning of supply chains, protecting jobs, and preserving Canada’s trading reputation.