Potential Strike by Canadian Border Agents Could Disrupt Travel and Supply Chain

by Alice

Canadian border agents are poised to strike on Friday, potentially disrupting travel for nearly 400,000 daily U.S.-Canada border crossers and impacting the supply chain between the two countries. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) are in negotiations with the Canadian government, seeking a new labor agreement. If no agreement is reached by 4 p.m. ET on Friday, more than 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees will participate in the strike.

“We are still hopeful that we can reach an agreement to avoid strike action and any potential delays at Canada’s borders,” said PSAC National President Sharon DeSousa. The union members, who have been without a contract for over two years, are demanding higher wages to match those of other law enforcement agencies, remote work options, improved retirement benefits, and stronger workplace protections.


Mark Weber, CIU National President, emphasized the members’ readiness to strike, saying, “Our members have overwhelmingly told us they are prepared to fight for fair wages, equitable retirement, and to make CBSA a better place to work.”


In May, PSAC members voted 96% in favor of a strike mandate, with mediation sessions beginning on June 3. Should the strike occur, over 90% of front-line border officers, considered essential workers, will continue to provide basic services. However, this could still lead to significant delays at national entry points.


In 2021, a similar work-to-rule action led to major delays at airports and borders until an agreement was reached after 36 hours of mediation. A strike now would further disrupt the supply chain between the U.S. and Canada, which traded $3.6 billion worth of goods and services daily in 2023. Trucks carried 55% of this freight in 2022, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has urged the unions and government to reach an agreement to protect trade and avoid further disruptions. The trucking sector is already experiencing instability due to railway labor negotiations, retirements, and federal legislation on sick days. “These are undoubtedly complex and challenging decisions to make, but the Government of Canada must lead decisively to prevent economic chaos from threatening Canada’s supply chains and economic viability,” the CTA stated.

The Treasury Board of Canada expressed disappointment over the strike threat, saying it undermines bargaining efforts and disrupts services expected by residents. “Negotiation is a process of give and take. The government is prepared to make concessions, but there needs to be movement on both sides,” the Board stated.

If the strike proceeds, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne announced that the CBSA had assured them the domestic lane would remain open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Cornwall Port of Entry, with measures in place to facilitate safe and swift crossings. However, travelers should expect longer wait times, picketing, and union-related activities. The CBSA plans to address delays promptly and provide updates on its website.



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