For Immediate Release
Monday, June 12, 2023
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is sounding the 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.
“The ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are vital gateways for international trade, handling over $350 billion in goods every year,” said Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. “We want to avoid another disruption that risks fueling inflation and higher prices for consumers and businesses so soon after the devastation inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, heat domes, and catastrophic flooding.”
The current 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. A strike vote held on June 9 and 10 resulted in union members voting in favour of a mandate to strike. Either party could be in a position to strike or lockout as early as June 24, 2023. This could lead to disruptions at west coast ports and impacts across Canada’s supply chain in less than two weeks. A disruption in port operations would severely impact manufacturing, retail, agriculture, critical minerals, automotive dealers, and energy industries across the country.
“Supply chain stability is critical to Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner and to ensure Canadians have the household necessities they need in stores across the country,” noted Anderson. “We are calling on business, workers, and the federal government to work together to ensure our supply chains are stable and well-functioning, to benefit all Canadians.”
Domestically, with goods unable to move efficiently through west coast ports, businesses could experience delays in receiving essential raw materials, components, and finished products. Companies may be forced to divert cargo to other ports, causing a loss of local economic activity and higher GHG emissions to get products to the country. The impact would extend beyond jobs directly related to B.C. ports and affect thousands of workers in transportation and logistics roles as well as those working in supporting industries. The situation is further complicated for businesses, as alternate U.S. west coast ports have been subject to labour disruptions in recent days.
Reaching a mutually beneficial agreement is crucial for maintaining the stability of Canada’s economy and preserving the country’s reputation as a reliable trading partner. The union, employer, and federal government are urged to prioritize dialogue and come to a fair resolution that safeguards the interests of workers, businesses, and Canadians across the country.
About the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade:
Since its inception in 1887, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has been recognized as Western Canada's leading business association, engaging our members to inform public policy at all levels of government and empowering them to succeed and prosper in the global economy. With a Membership whose employees comprise one-third of B.C.'s workforce, we are the largest business association between Victoria and Toronto. We leverage this collective strength, facilitating networking opportunities, and providing professional development through unique programs. In addition, we operate one of the largest events platforms in the country, providing a stage for national and international thought leaders to enlighten B.C.'s business leaders.