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Federal Government Engagement on Labour Stability on Canada’s West Coast

On behalf of the Canadian business community, please find attached a letter expressing concern over the potential for a labour disruption that would affect ports in British Columbia.
The letter - signed by over 120 associations, chambers of commerce and boards of trade - requests the government’s active engagement with this bargaining process and that it be prepared to act to prevent a labour disruption. It is imperative that the federal government work with the parties to secure an affordable, stable, and efficient supply chain.

June 13, 2023

Hon. Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P. Minister of Labour

Hon. Omar Alghabra, P.C., M.P. Minister of Transport

Re: Federal Government Engagement on Labour Stability on Canada’s West Coast

Dear Ministers:

We are expressing our alarm over the potential for a labour disruption that would affect ports in British Columbia, including the largest port in Canada, the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert respectively, to add another shock to our supply chain. The Supply Chain Task Force report noted that “wild swings in supply and demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate shocks (e.g., wildfires, floods) and growing geopolitical uncertainty, have put trade norms and flows at risk.” The potential for a labour dispute adds to an already challenging situation.

The collective agreements between the BCMEA and ILWU Canada on behalf of the Longshore Locals and Local 514 Ship & Dock Foremen expired on March 31, 2023. We understand that either party could be in a position to strike or lock out as early as June 24. Such actions would disrupt west coast ports and have immediate impacts across Canada’s already fragile supply chain in as little as two weeks. A breakdown in port operations would severely impact manufacturing, retail, agriculture, automotive dealers, and energy industries across the country.

On behalf of the Canadian business community, we request the government’s active engagement with this bargaining process and that it be prepared to act to prevent a labour disruption. It is imperative that the federal government work with the parties to secure an affordable, stable, and efficient supply chain.

Canadians and businesses alike require stability in our supply chains. According to the Canadian Chamber’s Business Data Lab, nearly a quarter of businesses have stated that supply chain issues will continue to remain a key obstacle to growth and that they expect these challenges to persist well into next year. A labour disruption will have a significant and immediate impact on the livelihoods of Canadians and the health of Canadian businesses that rely on the safe and efficient flow of Canadian goods.

As Canada’s largest gateway, Canada’s west coast ports handle over $500 million worth of cargo, including agri-foods, perishable goods, potash, critical minerals and household necessities, every day. Approximately sixteen percent of Canada’s total traded goods flow through our west coast terminals. The trade our west coast ports facilitate ensures critical products arrive in Canada and make their way to store shelves and our factories efficiently and affordably. Any work stoppage will damage the Canadian economy, fanning inflation and increasing costs for Canadians. Our exporting industries could face delays in getting their products to market, hampering their ability to earn income and secure global contracts that drive investment and support jobs here at home.

We respect the right to collective bargaining and believe sincerely that the best deals are reached at the table. Government must continue to work closely with all parties to reach an agreement to avoid a work stoppage. Canada’s economy and our supply chains cannot afford another disruption. Government must be prepared to act immediately in the event bargaining breaks down. A functioning, efficient, reliable, and affordable supply chain is critical to Canada’s economy. Combatting inflation, restoring price stability and strengthening our arrangements with countries in desperate need of stable, reliable trading partners require a dependable, predictable port system. Without stability, we will jeopardize the success and livelihoods of Canadians and their businesses and the growth and prosperity of our country and our allies.


Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade
Alberta Chambers of Commerce
Association of Canada Restaurants Canada
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
Association Québécoise de l'Industrie du Cannabis
BC Council of Forest Industries
Belleville Chamber of Commerce
Brampton Board of Trade
British Columbia Chamber of Commerce
British Columbia Trucking Association
Burnaby Board of Trade
Business Council Of British Columbia
Business Council of Canada
Business Ottawa Board of Trade
Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
Camrose & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters
Canadian Automobile Dealers Association
Canadian Canola Growers Association
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Construction Association
Canadian Federation of Independent
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Canadian Meat Council
Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Canadian Sugar Institute
Canadian Toy Association
Canola Council of Canada
Chamber Of Commerce Brantford-Brant
Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia
Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce
Chemistry Industry
Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce
Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce
Commerce Weyburn Chamber of Commerce
Commerce Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
Delta Chamber of Commerce
Didsbury & District Chamber of Commerce
Dufferin Board of Trade
Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce
Edson and District Chamber of Commerce
Electro-Federation Canada
Enserva Surrey Board of Trade
Fertilizer Canada
FETCO Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce
Food Producers of Canada
Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Forest Products Association of Canada
Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce
Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce
Freight Management Association of Canada
Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce
Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce
Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce
Greater Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce
Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of
Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce
Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
Greater Parkland Regional Chamber of
Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce
Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Grimsby & District Chamber of Commerce
Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce
Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
London Chamber of Commerce
Madoc & District Chamber of Commerce
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce
Medtech Canada
Milton Chamber of Commerce
Minning Association of British Columbia
Mississauga Board of Trade
New Car Dealers Association of BC
Newcastle & District Chamber of Commerce
Nipawin & District Chamber of Commerce
Oakville Chamber of Commerce
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
Orillia & District Chamber of Commerce
Owen Sound & District Chamber of Commerce
Parkland Chamber of Commerce
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce
Port Colborne-Wainfleet Chamber of Commerce
Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce
Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce
Railway Association of Canada
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce
Redwater & District Chamber of Commerce
Responsible Distribution Canada
Retail Council of Canada
Richmond Chamber of Commerce
Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
Shipping Federation of Canada
Smithers District Chamber Of Commerce
Spirits Canada
Sudbury East Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton
The Chamber of Commerce Niagara Falls, Canada
The Mining Association of Canada
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce
Toronto Region Board of Trade
Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce
Vegreville & District Chamber of Commerce
Vermilion & District Chamber of Commerce
Welland/Pelham Chamber of Commerce
Western Canadian Shippers’ Coalition
Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce
Winkler & District Chamber of Commerce
Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce
Yorkton Chamber Of Commerce
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