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Alberta premier calls on Trudeau to address B.C. port strike

July 11, 2023  By CFI staff

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the economic impacts brought by the work stoppages affecting B.C. ports.

“I am writing to raise concerns about the current work stoppage affecting Canada’s West coast ports. We are now a week into the work stoppage and urgent federal action is required to resolve this dispute and mitigate economic damage to the country,” the premier said in a letter dated July 8.

“The negotiations taking place between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) are of utmost importance to Alberta. While we respect the collective bargaining process, we are very concerned about the effects of a prolonged work stoppage on Albertans and Canadians as they deal with serious inflationary pressures,” Premier Smith stated.


The letter comes after Smith and Trudeau briefly met on July 7 to discuss shared priorities and pressing issues such as wildfires, carbon emissions and the B.C. port workers strike, among others.

In a statement, the prime minister’s office said, “The two leaders spoke about the port strike on the West Coast and reaffirmed their commitment to finding a resolution.”

In her letter, the Alberta premier reiterated the negative impact of the job action to Alberta’s exports. Some 7,400 port workers who are ILWU members walked off the job on Canada Day, paralyzing some of Canada’s busiest ports located in B.C. The strike prompted businesses and associations, including the BC Council of Forest Industries, to call for an end to the protests.

Below is the rest of Premier Smith’s letter.

“The stoppage of trade at the ports will have significant negative economic consequences that undermine both Alberta’s and Canada’s competitiveness and reputation as a reliable supplier to international customers. In 2021, $12.4 billion of Alberta’s merchandise exports, including grains and mineral and forest products, were shipped via the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. An overall $500 million worth of cargo such as agri-foods, potash and critical minerals, and household necessities are handled by the BCMEA’s member terminals every day.

“Prominent Canadian shippers have made it clear that the work stoppage is already affecting the flow of goods, including perishable goods. Should this labour disruption continue, it will have an increasingly severe impact on the livelihoods of Albertans, Canadians and Canadian businesses who rely on the safe and efficient flow of our supply chain. Experts are also warning that the economic damage could take months to correct after work resumes.

“Canada’s supply chains have been negatively affected in recent years by various events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather, and other labour disruptions within the transportation sector. For these reasons, Alberta supports an immediate recall of Parliament for the consideration of legislation to resolve this critically important issue.

“I would also like to point out that the federal government used legislation in 2021 to end a walkout by Port of Montreal dock workers after one day. This level of federal urgency is in sharp contrast to the current situation, in which inaction continues to cause economic damage to western supply chains, businesses and consumers.

“While proactive federal measures could have prevented this current situation, I urge your government to develop a new process for addressing the risk of work stoppages at ports in the future. The federal government must ensure labour stability and support a resilient supply chain to protect our economy and the Canadians who rely on it.”

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