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Federally proposed labour legislation could lead to further economic destabilization


Think back to 2019; Canada’s supply chain infrastructure received very little attention; consumers gave little to no thought to how their favourite items appeared on store shelves. 

Once the pandemic hit, the disruption in the supply chain became a daily news item and a source of frustration for consumers across the country. The efficient movement of goods in supply chain sectors, such as trucking, rail, ports, and telecom is critical to our country’s economic growth.

To address these issues, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with chambers of commerce in Milton, Mississauga and Brampton, founded the Halton Peel Supply Chain Council. Leading transportation and logistics companies have joined the council to focus on the advancement of the supply chain through resources from collaboration and information sharing to technology and talent recruitment.

The council’s 72 members meet quarterly to provide policy direction and recommendations to all levels of government on directives that will support the supply chain and economic growth.

A current matter is the proposed legislation on prohibiting replacement workers in federally regulated industries. That legislation is raising serious concerns for the business community, including many who play an essential role in growing the economy and ensuring supply chains are moving.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently weighed in on the proposed legislation as part of the government’s consultation process.

Within our current labour relations system, replacement workers allow organizations in sectors such as trucking, rail, ports, telecom, and air to provide a basic level of service that preserve critical services to Canadians. The proposed anti-replacement worker legislation changes the balance of power we currently have within our labour relations system, potentially leading to labour strife within key sectors of our economy.

Removing the use of replacement workers threatens the collective bargaining process and may result in longer strike action and significant damage to the economy and our reputation as a reliable place to do business.

The Canadian Chamber encouraged the government to engage in meaningful consultations that will allow for the private sector, unions and government to create collaborative solutions to avoid disrupting the supply chain.

The government should consider providing the authority to the Minister of Labour, or the Federal Cabinet, to compel binding arbitration for the resolution of a labour dispute — prior to a work stoppage – in sectors that are essential to Canada’s supply chains, such as railways and ports. This change would help Canada’s supply chains avoid costly disruptions impacting the economy.

Legislation that could further disrupt or delay supply chain processes will only raise costs more, which, in turn, will be passed down to the consumer. Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for doing business relies on a resilient and reliable system. We cannot afford to introduce such legislation at this time.