More than 8,500 unionized staff with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) voted yesterday in favour of a strike mandate just days before Canada allows fully vaccinated U.S. citizens to cross the border. Although almost 90 per cent of CBSA employees are identified as “essential” and would continue to work in the event of a strike, slowdowns are expected.
the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) said strike action could begin as soon as August 6 after their members, 5,500 border services officers, 2,000 headquarters staff and other workers at Canada Post facilities, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the action.
Risk of significant economic disruption
A labour dispute while borders begin to reopen could cause a significant disruption to the flow of goods, services and people entering Canada, and impact the Canadian economy by:
- Slowing down commercial traffic at the border and ports of entry;
- Impacting international mail and parcel deliveries from Canada Post and other major shipping companies;
- Impact the collection of duties and taxes on goods entering Canada.
Contract talks reached an impasse in December 2020, “We’re going to work with them and we’re hopeful there won’t be any disruptions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.
Last week, Canada announced plans to allow entry of fully vaccinated Americans beginning August 9, and fully vaccinated international travellers starting on September 7. The border has been shut for non-essential travel for more than 16 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Strike action, as early as August 6 could throw these plans into jeopardy.
Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), said Tuesday that the economy can’t afford another trade disruption. He called on all parties to return to the table. “Any disruption will have significant impacts on our economic recovery and on the flow of essential goods into Canada,” Darby said in a statement. “This situation will cripple manufacturers’ ability to get the essential components and goods to sustain global supply chains, and threatens thousands of Canadian businesses.”
We will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly.
For more information, please call Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs at (905) 882-4880, ext. 1213.