The Public Service Alliance of Canada – Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) has voted to strike as early as August 6, which could impact the movement of commercial goods, courier shipments, and international mail through ports and land border points and the movement of personnel cross-border.
Additionally, the border is set to reopen to fully vaccinated US citizens as of August 9, so a slowdown at points of entry could have negative implications for businesses that are highly dependent on tourist traffic.
It is unclear how much disruption a strike would cause to traffic in commercial goods, given that close to 90% of CBSA Agents are designated as essential workers. The government has committed to maintaining essential services throughout the strike and the union has indicated that its members will abide by their essential services obligations.
Given that the large majority of border crossings currently are commercial loads (with individual travel still tightly controlled due to COVID-19), there should be sufficient personnel coverage for the movement of goods both at land borders and ports, but that could be placed at risk if designated “essential” agents move to a work-to-rule approach during the strike, or if PSAC-CIU targets particular entry points through rotating strikes.
There is of course the possibility that the labour dispute will be settled without extensive strike action or that Parliament will reconvene to address the dispute with back-to-work legislation.
RCC will be discussing our concerns with the Minister of Public Security, to whom CBSA reports, and with the Minister of International Trade. Needless to say, RCC will be stressing the threat that the strike could pose to the fragile recovery of the retail sector and especially to those merchants who are reliant on tourism.
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Senior Vice-President, Public Affairs