Stocks of key supplies dwindle in Maritimes as CN Rail strike hits Day 4
HALIFAX -- It's day four of the CN Rail strike and the impact on industries that rely on Canada's largest railway is being felt here in the Maritimes.
The railway carries home heating fuel, chemicals to treat water systems, and food supplies throughout North America. This week, about 3,200 workers walked off the job, halting trains across the country.
"We are expecting consumers to start seeing the effects of the strike probably next week," said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food security at Dalhousie University. "In fact there are some reports out there suggesting that stores like Costco, Walmart are getting fewer containers. In fact, some of them aren't getting any containers at all. That's less merchandise to be sold in a critical time of year."
Not only is the holiday shopping season upon us, with cold temperatures setting in and a limited supply of propane in the Maritimes, there is worry that some may not be able to heat their homes if the strike doesn't end soon.
Thousands of people in the Maritimes need propane to keep their homes warm.
The Canadian Propane Association estimates there is only a few days left before all suppliers in Atlantic Canada run out.
"It's serious," said Nathalie St-Pierre, the president of the Propane Association of Canada."Some suppliers are empty, they have no more propane. Others are indicating to their customers that if they have other means to heat their homes for instance, that maybe they should hold off on using propane. The situation is getting critical."
There's also concern about the transportation of oil and other fuels, as well as chemicals used to treat drinking water and sewage systems.
"We move a lot of other petroleum products including gasoline," said Bob Masterson of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada."We also produce goods for public services like ensuring drinking water is safe. This can't go on forever or municipalities won't have some of the chemistries they need to keep safe and clean drinking water."
And there are other industries like farming, manufacturing, and automotives that will also feel the impact of this disruption.
There's also worry of job loss here in the Maritimes. There are a lot of spinoff jobs like loading and unloading freight, jobs with port authorities, and others who are worried about what will happen if this strike doesn't end soon.