Manufacturers Call for Back-to-Work Legislation to End BC Ports Strike

July 19, 2023. Ottawa, Ontario. – Five days after an all-party resolution was obtained between the federal government, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) and the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) that ended a 13-day labour disruption at the ports of British Columbia, manufacturers now find themselves trapped by a new job action.

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) fully agrees with Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s statement that we need our ports operating. The federal government has the full support of manufacturers to use back-to-work legislation to bring an end to this second job action at the ports this month.

“A second strike at the ports of British Columbia, days after an all-party agreement was reached, is intolerable for Canadian manufacturers. Our businesses, like any other in Canada, only thrive on the stability of our critical transportation infrastructure. We need this strike to end, and for the BC ports to open now” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME. “We urge the federal government to deploy any measure at its disposal, especially back-to-work legislation, that will bring the quickest end to the strike. Any delay will only add to the damage done to manufacturers, the economy, and Canada’s global reputation.”

Last week, CME conducted a survey of its members that showed the ports strike in British Columbia had a severe impact on their businesses and the Canadian economy. The poll was conducted between July 11 and July 13, 2023, and received input from manufacturers from across the country.

Nearly two-thirds of manufacturers in Canada said the strike affected their operations now, while another 28 per cent of respondents said it was only a matter of time until they experienced problems themselves. Of those impacted, just under 70 per cent said the impacts were “significant” to “severe”. Costs to individual manufacturing businesses experiencing delays were reported to be on average of $207,000 per day.

Most concerningly, however, nine out of 10 affected manufacturers said the strike disrupted their supply of raw materials or components, while 70 per cent reported that it negatively impacted their relationships with customers, hurting already fragile supply chains.

While the results of this survey revealed the reputational and economic costs of the strike, CME also asked what reforms manufacturers would like to see to prevent future labour disruptions. An overwhelming 95 per cent said they are in favour of reforms that that would allow the government to impose binding arbitration on striking workers, while another 97 per cent of respondents want the government to treat critical aspects of Canada’s transportation system as essential services.


From the first industrial boom in Canada, CME has advocated for and represented member interests. 150 years strong, CME has earned an extensive and effective track record of working for and with 2,500 leading companies nationwide. More than 85 per cent of CME’s members are SMEs and collectively account for an estimated 82 per cent of total manufacturing production and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.


Jane Taber
Vice President, Public Affairs NATIONAL Public Relations
C: 902-209-9512 |