Saskatchewan leaders, businesses call on Trudeau to end B.C port strike

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Several organizations in Saskatchewan are calling on the federal government to help resolve the ongoing Port strike on the west coast.

Port workers in British Columbia have been on strike now over a week, and concerns are mounting among industries that rely heavily on exports.

For the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, the economic consequences are top of mind.

“About 44 per cent of our trade goes through the Vancouver-Fraser port, and that accounts for about $17 billion in commodities that’s going through, so this a very significant issue,” Prabha Ramaswamy, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO said.

Ramaswamy said with no alternate ports with the same capacity to move the amount of goods exported by the province, options like re-routing through the United States would mean more costs for exporters.

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“We’ve got what the world needs, but getting it to international markets is a challenge, has always been a challenge, and the challenge has been compounded by the strike,” Ramaswamy explained.

On June 20th, the provincial ministers of highways and of trade Jeremy Cockrill, sent a letter to the federal government of the implications should a strike move forward, saying a labour dispute would create bottlenecks in the supply chain, causing shortages in goods and increased costs for businesses.

“We implore you to explore all possible avenues to prevent a labour disruption, as the consequences would be far-reaching and detrimental to the well-being of our province and our country as a whole,” the letter to the federal government read.

In a tweet from Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, he said “the federal government needs to be exploring all options to end this costly and economically damaging strike.”

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Now with the strike in full effect, Brad Sigurdson with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, said a lengthy strike could lead to curtailment or shutdowns.

“We can’t get our products to market without these ports and to have these disruptions on a constant basis is very disheartening to say the least; very disruptive to workers and everything,” Sigurdson said.

With Saskatchewan being the world’s largest exporter of potash and fertilizer, both the Chamber and the Mining Association are echoing the province’s call to the feds to look at options to bring the strike to a mutual agreement before further economic issues arise.

While in Calgary during a meeting with Alberta premier Danielle Smith, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will continue putting pressure on both sides to end the port strike.

Trudeau said he’s aware of how “impactful” the strike has been on Prairie businesses and said the best deal to be found is at the bargaining table.

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