Canadian Manufacturing

Visiting Canadian leaders doing U.S. damage control as rail dispute hits supply chain

Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan is under mounting pressure to legislate some 3,000 CP Rail conductors, engineers and train and yard workers back to work.

March 21, 2022   The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — Business leaders who happen to be in the U.S. capital today say they are in damage control mode as a work stoppage at CP Rail deals another blow to cross-border supply chains.

Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, says U.S. lawmakers and counterparts — even White House officials — have been worried for weeks about a possible labour dispute.

Hyder says the damage to Canada’s reputation could be lasting, coming as it does on the heels of last month’s week-long shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont.

And the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association is warning Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan that a protracted dispute could have a devastating effect on critical supply chains already weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advertisement

In a letter to O’Regan, president and CEO Brian Kingston says rail is a critical component in automotive supply chains, and a driver shortage in the trucking industry means there are few viable alternatives.

The CP Rail dispute is likely to be a familiar topic for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who also happens to be in D.C. today to promote his province as a reliable supplier and manufacturing partner to the U.S.

O’Regan is under mounting pressure to legislate some 3,000 CP Rail conductors, engineers and train and yard workers back to work.

The railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union blamed each other for causing the work stoppage, though the two sides spent Sunday talking with federal mediators.

The House of Commons resumed sitting today following a two-week break, so legislation could come immediately if the government so chooses.

But a spokeswoman for O’Regan said on the weekend that the government believes the best deal is reached at the bargaining table.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2022.