Businesses Pressure Ottawa To End CP Rail Work Stoppage

Business groups across Canada and pressuring the federal government in Ottawa to quickly end the work stoppage at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).

Several business groups are warning of dire consequences if CP Rail operations remain shutdown for an extended period. The National Cattle Feeders' Association, for example, says that if the trains don't start moving soon, many farmers in western Canada will run out of livestock feed for their animals within one to three weeks.

The National Cattle Feeders’ Association and others are calling on the federal government to introduce back-to-work legislation as a work stoppage at the Calgary-based railway continued through its second day.

Approximately 3,000 conductors, engineers and train and yard workers with CP Rail were off the job Sunday at midnight. The company and the union representing the workers, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, blamed each other for causing the work stoppage, though both also said they were still talking with the help of federal mediators.

Those talks continued Monday in Calgary. Industry groups say the stakes are particularly high, given that the CP Rail shutdown comes at a time when many businesses are already dealing with supply chain difficulties caused by the pandemic, extreme weather, and the recent blockades of border crossings by protesters.

Fertilizer Canada has warned that with just a month to go before spring seeding gets underway, a rail shutdown means farmers may not get all the fertilizer they need for their crops.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the work stoppage could affect the province's reputation as a commodity exporter. He also called on the federal government to draft back-to-work legislation and to classify rail workers as an essential service.