Canadian Pacific strike impacting wheat board
More than 4,000 Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) workers are on strike and another 2,000 have been laid off leaving many industries in Canada without any trains for transport.
The Canadian Wheat Board relied on CP Railway for half their total program – annually it is around 18 million tonnes.
Ward Weisensel, chief operating officer with the Wheat Board said that every day of the strike equals major losses.
“If this strike lasts any time at all, the costs to us and to western Canadian farmers are very, very significant…. If it lasts longer than a week it can quickly start moving up into the millions of dollars,” he said.
Every day that a ship has to wait at the dock it costs the Wheat Board around $15,000 per shipment.
The Board will try to move what they can through the CN Railway but Weisensel said they will not have the time or capacity.
“In terms of moving grain to export position, there are very limited alternatives to rail movement (with CP railway),” he said.
He is optimistic that the strike will be resolved but said that the Wheat Board has taken some of their own steps.
“We have written a letter to the government outlining our concerns with respect to the potential impact of this on farmers and our reputation as a reliable supplier around the world… and are asking that they find a way to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” he said.
He said that although there is no good time for a strike, the CP Railway timing is especially damaging.
“Our programs are pretty strong right now so this is not a good time for this to happen,” he said.