The work stoppage could cost more than $3 billion, one economist said
By Diego Flammini
The current Canadian National Railway (CN) strike could cost the Canadian economy upwards of $3 billion if the dispute continues into December.
If the strike lasts until the end of November, it could cost $2.2 billion. If it goes until Dec. 5, the day Parliament is supposed to reconvene, the transport delays could cost up to $3.1 billion, Brian DePratto, a senior economist with TD, told BNN Bloomberg.
More than 3,000 CN employees went on strike Nov. 19, citing safety among their concerns.
Since the strike began, Canadian grain has sat at elevators serviced by CN. The strike also means the railway isn’t transporting propane, which many farmers use to dry grain and heat barns and homes.
And ships at Canadian ports are waiting for products to arrive.
Provincial leaders have called for the federal government to return to Ottawa early to end the labour dispute.
“One of the first priorities of the new federal cabinet is getting CN employees back to work and getting rail transport working again,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said on Twitter on Nov. 20.
Members of the Trudeau cabinet, however, are committed to letting the two sides negotiate without government intervention.
“Every option is always on the table. But, for the time being, we hope that both parties will get to an agreement,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Monday during Agribition, CTV reported.
The effects of the strike could be far reaching.
The strike needs to end to ensure trading partners look at Canada favourably, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) said.
“It certainly doesn’t help when you are trying to repair these relationships and then we have this issue following up behind,” said Chris van den Heuvel, second vice-president of the CFA, Drumheller Online reported. “Things like this deal crippling blows to farmers; you add strike conditions in at a time when trade tensions are at an all-time high worldwide. This has an (affect) on the mental health of our farmers. It is incredibly frustrating.”
Some farmers are calling on the prime minister directly to end the strike.
On Monday, farmers in Quebec drove tractors to and dumped corn at Prime Minister Trudeau’s constituency office to demand his government act.
Farmers also drove tractors to CN’s Montreal headquarters on Friday.
“We’re on the alert. It’s an intolerable situation,” Marcel Groleau, president of the Agricultural Producers’ Union, told CBC.