Will a port strike in Western Canada have a positive or negative impact on the U.S. market?

Likely, a strike will not have much of an impact on U.S. markets. Over 41 million metric tons of Canadian agricultural crops and products were exported in 2018 with 65 percent exported through Western Canada Ports. Even if a strike is called, Canada’s Labor Code deems grain to be an essential service and longshoremen will be required to load and ship grain.

Source: Canadian Grain Commission

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) voted overwhelmingly (98 percent) to strike against the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA). The ILWU members’ vote means a strike can be called in the next 60 days, with 72 hours’ notice to BCMEA member companies. In July 2017, the U.S. International Longshore and Warehouse Union signed a three-year extension with the Pacific Maritime Association. According to Business in Vancouver, long-term labor agreements between ILWU-represented port workers and maritime employers in the U.S. have put competitive pressure on the Port of Vancouver to remain open.