BC Chamber Statement on the Ongoing Rail & Infrastructure Blockades

Wider economic impacts now emerging

(Updated on February 25, 2020 at 12:35 PM)

The BC Chamber urges the Federal Government to take swift action to end supply-chain disruptions and restore normal services, as we head into a third weekend of potential blockades across BC and Canada.

“If the country wakes up Monday morning with blockades still in place, we’ll be looking at an entirely new magnitude of negative economic impacts,” says Val Litwin, President & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

“The 1500 layoffs at Via Rail and CN are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Litwin. “Now that supply chains have been disrupted for more than two weeks, we’re going to see severe impacts at the grassroots level. Small businesses on Main Street are going to be hit next. A rail disruption of this magnitude constitutes an emergency for the Canadian economy.”

BC Businesses are already seeing first-hand effects. A BCMindreader.com survey from Feb. 21 indicates that 42% of businesses have been impacted by the blockades.

Otter Co-op in Langley is one of the top 100 Manufacturers in BC for their Feed Mill. The business is experiencing fuel shortages for their gas stations, affecting the ability to move goods, and grain shortages at their feed mill, meaning local farmers won’t be able to feed their livestock.

Northwest BC communities dependent on forestry are having difficulty getting rail cars for the 95% of local lumber normally shipped by rail. A Northwest business owner in the service industry says, “When loggers don’t get paid, I don’t get paid.”

One BCMindReader.com respondent says that supply chain delays have cost their business $25,000. Another says they are awaiting the delivery of critical equipment from overseas, and yet another points out that their customers are unable to export raw materials, which is affecting cashflow down to their business.

Businesses aren’t the only one being punished, communities are vulnerable too. The blockades threaten public safety by preventing the distribution of essential products like chlorine for water treatment and propane for heating homes, seniors’ facilities and farms.

The BC Chamber recognizes the complexity of the current situation, but still calls on governments to work together over the weekend to restore service as soon as possible.


About BC Chamber of Commerce

The BC Chamber is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province. Representing more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce is “To Know What’s on BC’s Mind.”

For more information, contact:

Alexandra Skinner
Director, Communications BC Chamber of Commerce
T: 604-638-8114
E: [email protected]