Joint statement of concern by retailers and manufacturers on the impact of rail blockades - Retail Council of Canada
Store Operations | Supply Chain & Logistics

Joint statement of concern by retailers and manufacturers on the impact of rail blockades

February 14, 2020

Canada’s retailers and food and consumer goods manufacturers share deep concern about the impact of ongoing rail blockades on our businesses, our employees and most importantly, on our ability to supply the food and consumer goods on which all Canadians rely. Retail Council of Canada and Food & Consumer Products Canada have joined together to stress the seriousness of the outcomes if these blockades continue.

While we support the right to peaceful protest, we also believe strongly in the rule of law and that where injunctions are issued, they must be followed and if need be, enforced by public authorities.  We call upon all levels of government involved to take the steps necessary to get rail freight moving again, so that we can deliver on our vital role in providing Canadians with the groceries and products that they need in their daily lives.

Our two sectors note with frustration that we have no direct involvement in the Coastal GasLink issue and yet the protests are targeting the transportation system for our industries that between them have presence in essentially every community in Canada and that collectively, employ almost 2.4 million Canadians.  

The implications of extended blockades are that there will be shortages on shelves, that groceries and necessary household products will not get through to consumers and that there will be spoilage of fresh food and other time-sensitive items, in turn affecting Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector among others.

This is not solely a food supply issue.  Among the type of goods impacted are items like personal hygiene products, infant formula, fire alarms and the type of cleaning and sanitary products that help deal with concerns about the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases.

We anticipate that while major urban centres will feel these effects, they will be felt particularly acutely in smaller communities, as the blockades put additional pressure on alternative delivery links (specifically trucking) at a time when trucking is already challenged to meet demand.

If the blockades drag on, there will be implications for hours and employment, as manufacturing processes can’t run if there is a scarcity of inputs and no means of distributing finished product.  Similarly, retailers can’t operate if they don’t have the goods to put on the shelves or to deliver through e-commerce.

We recognize the strongly-held convictions of those engaged in the protests but ask them to consider the implications of food and other shortages for their fellow citizens.  For public authorities, we understand the primacy of concerns about health and safety but want to point out not only the obvious economic consequences but also the implications for health and safety of interruption in our own activities.

For further information, please contact:

Karl Littler   
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
Retail Council of Canada
1881 Yonge Street, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M4S 3C4
(c)  416.906.0040

Anthony Fuchs 
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Food & Consumer Products of Canada
2700 Matheson Blvd E., Suite 602E
Mississauga,  ON  L4W 4V9
(o)  416.510.8088
(c)  416.648.8808

About our Two Organizations

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Retail is Canada’s largest private sector employer with over 2.1 million Canadians working in our industry. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two-thirds of core retail sales in the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) is the voice of the Canadian food, beverage and consumer products industry. We represent more than 100 food, beverage, and consumer product businesses of all sizes. Food processing is the largest employer in the manufacturing sector in Canada, directly employing nearly 300,000 workers in over 6,000 manufacturing facilities from coast to coast. We contribute nearly $29 billion annually to Canada’s economy and provide safe, high-quality products found in virtually every single home in Canada.