Business community urges Trudeau to end port shutdown

Groups say the strike will hurt businesses, consumers and the entire Canadian economy.

Port workers gather during a strike in B.C. – ILWU Canada

Canada’s business community is calling for an end to a labour dispute that has shut down Western Canadian ports.

On July 1, more than 7,000 International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU Canada) workers walked off the job after negotiations with the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) failed to produce a new collective agreement. Days later, the two parties seem no closer to a solution.

“The BC Construction Association is deeply concerned about the labour dispute at Canada’s West Coast ports,” said Chris Atchison, BC Construction Association (BCCA) president, in a statement to SiteNews.

Approximately 25 percent of Canada’s total traded goods flow through these ports and this shutdown will fuel inflation, increase costs for business and consumers, and damage the Canadian economy.

Chris Atchison / BC Construction Association President

Atchison noted that with BC Contractors already feeling operational pressures tied to high demand for construction services, coupled with a continuing shortage in labour supply and rising costs due to post pandemic supply chain issues, the added strain will push BC’s builders into an even tougher spot while also negatively impacting the 230,000+ British Columbians employed in the sector.

Atchison added that the BCCA, along with its partner associations across Canada, have implored the Government of Canada to take immediate action to resolve the dispute.

Fiona Famulak, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, noted that the shutdown is not sustainable. 

“The continued shutdown of Canada’s busiest and third busiest ports, where as much as $800 million worth of cargo is moved daily, is untenable,” she said in a statement to SiteNews. “Every day the job action remains unresolved increases impacts on Canadians, businesses and our economy. Without swift resolution, this strike will become dire for every organization that relies on international supply chains to produce, supply and sell goods or services.”  

Striking workers walk the picket line with Canada’s largest port, the Port of Vancouver, in the background. – ILWU Canada

Famulak urged the union and the employers association to reach a deal as quickly as possible. 

“On behalf of the 100 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and the 36,000 businesses that we represent, we are calling on the parties to resume negotiations immediately and commit to finding a mutually acceptable resolution to the impasse,” she said.  “If negotiations do not bring resolution to the labour action, the federal government must act with urgency to facilitate an end to the strike.”

The BCCA and BC Chamber of Commerce are just the tip of the iceberg. Over 120 associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade representing the Canadian business community have united in a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express their deep concern over the labour disruption at Canada’s West Coast ports.

In addition to the BCCA and BC Chamber, industry signatories include the Canadian Construction Association, the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, BC Council of Forest Industries, Northern Regional Construction Association, Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Southern Interior Construction Association, Western Retail Lumber Association, Vancouver Regional Construction Association and the Vancouver Island Construction Association.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

“Dear Prime Minister:

On behalf of the Canadian business community, we are writing to express our deep concern regarding the labour dispute at Canada’s West Coast ports.

As associations, local chambers of commerce and boards of trade, whose members employ millions of Canadians, we are calling on the Government to reconvene Parliament and pass back-to-work legislation, immediately.

The shutdown of our ports will fuel inflation, increase costs for businesses and consumers, and damage the Canadian economy. It will severely reduce the ability of our exporting industries to move their products to market, making it much more difficult to secure the global contracts that drive investment and employ Canadians.

Approximately 25 percent of our total traded goods flow through the ports in Western Canada. They are Canada’s largest gateway, handling over $800 million worth of cargo, from agri-foods and potash to critical minerals, forestry, construction materials and household necessities, every single day. As a result of Canada’s heavy reliance on trade, the smooth delivery of goods is in the national public interest making the impact of this dispute far more profound than that of most other more isolated labour disruptions.

To position Canada as a reliable trading partner that is competitive in the global economy, businesses must be able to reliably and efficiently get goods to and from market. Canadians expect our elected officials to ensure that this labour dispute is resolved quickly.


Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce
Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada
Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade
Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
Alberta Chambers of Commerce
Innovative Medicines Canada
Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce (Manitoba)
Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce
Barriere & Area Chamber of Commerce
Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
BC Chamber of Commerce
King Chamber of Commerce
BC Chamber of Shipping
Leamington District Chamber of Commerce
BC Council of Forest Industries
Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
Beaumont Chamber of Commerce
Life Sciences BC
Brampton Board of Trade
London Chamber of Commerce
British Columbia Construction Association
Madoc & District Chamber of Commerce
British Columbia Trucking Association
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce
Burlington Chamber of Commerce
Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce
Burnaby Board of Trade
Mining Association of Canada
Business Council of Canada
Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce
Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Mississauga Board of Trade
Campbell River & District Chamber of Commerce
Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters
New Car Dealers Association of BC
Canadian Automobile Dealers Association
North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Canola Growers Association
Northern Regional Construction Association
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Oakville Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Construction Association
Ottawa Board of Trade
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Owen Sound & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Food Exporters Association
Parkland Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Home Builders’ Association
Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Perth & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Meat Council
Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Society of Customs Brokers
Prince George Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Sugar Institute
Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Toy Association
Railway Association of Canada
Canadian Trucking Alliance
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada
Canola Council of Canada
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce
Cap-Acadie Chamber of Commerce
Responsible Distribution Canada
Restaurants Canada
Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant
Retail Council of Canada
Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce
Richmond Chamber of Commerce
Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce
Ridge Meadows Chamber of Commerce
Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce
Rocky Mountain House & District Chamber Of Commerce
Cochrane Board of Trade
Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce
Saskatchewan Mining Association
Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
Delta Chamber of Commerce
Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce
Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
Shipping Federation of Canada
Electro-Federation Canada
Smithers District Chamber of Commerce
Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ)
South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce
Fertilizer Canada
Southern Interior Construction Association
St. Albert and District Chamber Of Commerce
Food Producers of Canada
St. Andrews Chamber of Commerce
Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Surrey Board of Trade
Freight Management Association of Canada
Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce
Global Automakers of Canada
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton
Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce
Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce
Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce
Toronto Region Board of Trade
Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce
Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce
Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
Vancouver Island Construction Association
Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce
Vancouver Regional Construction Association
Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
Vermilion & District Chamber of Commerce
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
Western Canadian Shippers’ Coalition
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Western Retail Lumber Association
Halifax Chamber of Commerce
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
Woodstock Chamber of Commerce
Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce
Yorkton Chamber of Commerce.”


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