COVID-19, Rail Bockades: Hits to the Canadian Economy Keep Coming

Government Must Respond in Budget

OTTAWA (March 03, 2019) – February was devasting for Canadian manufacturers and the economy. The rail blockades, COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and now the prospect of US tax cuts as a response to the pandemic threat are putting serious pressure on the Canadian economy.

Canadian manufacturing is at risk. A new survey by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters shows that 92 per cent of manufacturers say the rail blockade did permanent damage to Canada’s reputation as a good place to do business. It showed too that almost half of manufacturers were forced to curtail their production in the past month.

“Freight rail service is still not running at full capacity and the backlog will take weeks to clear. COVID-19 will further disrupt Canadian manufacturers’ supply chains and companies might be unable to access the components they need to continue production,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. “On top of all this, in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19, the US Government is considering a number of stimulus tax measures to help industry weather the crisis. Canadian manufacturers, already at a competitive disadvantage to their US counterparts, now face this triple-threat.”

In its pre-budget recommendations submission, CME laid-out a comprehensive plan to improve Canada’s business environment that focuses on:

  • Reducing the cost of doing business and increasing competitiveness
  • Encouraging business scale-up and investments
  • Addressing labour shortages

Given recent economic headwinds, it is critical the government considers these measures to support businesses and be also ready to put in place emergency stimulus measures. In our survey, over 42 per cent of manufacturers identified granting programs as their preferred relief measure to help recovery.




Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.


Stefi Proulx
Director of Communications
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
C:  613-292-6070 | | @CME_MEC