OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) expressed “deep concern,” and is calling on the Canadian federal government to use any tool at its disposal, including encouraging binding arbitration or using emergency legislation, to prevent a railroad supply chain disruption following a lockout notice issued by Canadian Pacific Railway on March 16.
"For grain farmers, the railways represent a lifeline," said Andre Harpe, chairman of GGC, which represents 65,000 farmers across the country. "This is the time of year when we receive critical deliveries of fertilizer and other inputs required to put a crop in the ground."
Calgary-based CP Rail said in a news release that it has issued 72-hour notice to the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference of its plan to lock out employees at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday if the union and the company are unable to come to a negotiated settlement or agree to binding arbitration. The union represents about 3,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, train and yard workers across Canada. Outstanding issues include the union's key concerns of wages, benefits and pensions.
GGC said the lockout news leaves Canadian farmers in a particularly vulnerable position, with many still recovering from the effects from last year's devastating drought. Coupled with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Canadian farmers and their international customers require quick reassurance that a spring crop will go in the ground without potential delays caused by supply chain disruption, GGC said."Our members rely on this critical infrastructure to get our product to customers across Canada and around the world," Harpe said. "We also need to move what little grain our members may have left, following last year's disappointing crop year, in order to support our cash flow for spring planting."