Open letter to Canadians on impacts to the Port of Vancouver from re-engaged strike action
We are disappointed that an agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) has not been reached, resulting in resumed strike action at the Port of Vancouver. We are deeply concerned about the impacts this will have on jobs, the economy, businesses and the livelihoods of Canadians.
While the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority does not have a role in labour negotiations between these groups—who, together, play an essential role in enabling trade along Canada’s west coast—the port authority has a federal mandate to ensure the safe and efficient movement of Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver.
Strike action disrupting port operations and anchorage capacity earlier this month halted the movement of approximately $800 million worth of cargo each day, impacting Canadians who rely on the businesses that import and export goods through the port for employment and for reliable access to the products that support each of us every day. Sustained strike action at the Port of Vancouver will have economic ripple effects impacting the more than 115,300 supply chain jobs that depend on the movement of goods through Canada’s largest and most diversified port.
In addition to supply chain impacts, over the nearly two weeks of strike action earlier this month, we were made aware of a growing list of small and medium sized businesses across the country who faced production challenges related to on-site storage capacity issues or who were running low on essential parts. With resumed strike action, these challenges associated with interrupted operations at the port could force businesses to halt production and suspend operations, leading to substantial layoffs of hard-working Canadians, impacting small and large communities across the country.
Operations and activity at the Port of Vancouver are complex and include many organizations. Supporting Canadian businesses and livelihoods, the efficient movement of goods is made possible through the dedicated efforts of marine carriers, marine pilots, longshore workers, terminal operators, railway workers and railways, trucking companies and drivers, and many others who make up the supply chain in the gateway.
The port authority will continue to monitor for impacts and work with various organizations to understand how best to manage challenges affecting port fluidity, as we ensure the safe movement of commercial ships through the Port of Vancouver and manage anchorage capacity.
With a view to keep operations as fluid as possible during strike action earlier this month, the port authority changed anchorage assignment protocols at the Port of Vancouver to prioritize the terminals that were still operational, and we will continue to do so. However, this alone is not enough to prevent further congestion and delays, and we are working with ship operators to resume an approach to slow down vessels and adopt a near-time arrival process.
As a federal agency, the port authority has a public interest mandate to enable Canada’s trade objectives. The last few years—during which the port community worked collaboratively to overcome challenges associated with extreme weather events and a global pandemic—have given us a clear line of sight around how important it is for Canada and for all Canadians to keep supply chains moving efficiently. It will take months to recover from the operational impact of this strike action—the longest at the port in 50 years— and any sustained strike action will jeopardize Canada’s reputation as a stable trade destination.
In the best interests of all Canadians, this matter needs to be resolved immediately.
Interim president and CEO
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
For updates regarding port operations, please see the information bulletins on our website
For information on labour negotiations, please refer to the BCMEA or ILWU
For updates on impacts to terminal operations, please refer to individual terminal operators
Please contact the container shipping lines directly regarding their routing choices. Information about container carriers that visit the Port of Vancouver is available on our website.