The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is raising the alarm regarding the ongoing strike at the West Coast ports and highlighting the severe consequences it poses for the province of Saskatchewan. As a landlocked region, businesses in Saskatchewan already face significant disadvantages, and any disruption in trade through the West Coast ports could have immediate and long-term negative impacts on the provincial economy. In response, the Chamber has communicated its concerns to Minister O’Regan and Minister Alghabra, emphasizing the need for a swift resolution to prevent further harm to the Canadian economy, competitiveness and our reputation as a stable trading nation.
Prabha Ramaswamy, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, expressed deep concern over the situation, stating, “The strike at the West Coast ports poses a significant threat to Saskatchewan’s economy. Our province heavily relies on trade through the Vancouver-Fraser Port, with billions of dollars’ worth of commodities passing through annually. The inability to access these ports will force us to resort to high-cost alternatives in the United States, causing losses for Canadian businesses and workers.”
Saskatchewan’s landlocked status puts it at a distinct disadvantage in international trade. The province’s economy thrives on exporting various commodities, including agricultural products, minerals and manufactured goods. The West Coast ports, particularly the Vancouver-Fraser Port, serve as vital gateways for these exports, facilitating billions of dollars in trade each year. The Vancouver-Fraser Port alone handles $17 billion worth of Saskatchewan commodities each year, and a total of $65 billion in western Canada’s trade goes through the port of Vancouver.
The strike has far-reaching implications beyond Saskatchewan’s borders. With more than 7,000 workers currently on strike, the West Coast ports handle an astonishing $800 million worth of goods per day. This disruption poses a significant threat to Canada’s overall economy, impacting businesses and consumers across the nation. Moreover, the strike jeopardizes Canada’s reputation as a reliable and stable trading nation, potentially leading to long-term consequences for international partnerships and investment.
The situation is further compounded by the lack of alternative Canadian ports with the capacity to absorb diverted products. The existing trade infrastructure is operating at maximum capacity, leaving Canadian businesses with no choice but to turn to high-cost port options in the United States. This alternative not only imposes significant financial burdens on businesses but also undermines the benefits that come from handling and shipping products domestically.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce urgently urges Minister O’Regan and Minister Alghabra to take swift and decisive action to resolve the collective bargaining agreement between the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada. Their intervention is critical in ensuring the prompt resumption of operations at the West Coast ports, safeguarding Saskatchewan’s economic stability and preserving Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner.