Fertilizer Canada urges to resolve the Port of Montreal strike

Fertilizer Canada called on the government of Canada to immediately implement back-to-work legislation and work quickly to end the Port of Montreal strike and get fertilizer moving again. Decisive action is needed to mitigate the impact of this strike on Canadian farmers, particularly those in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fertilizer enter Canada through the Port of Montreal during the spring seeding season. These fertilizer products are destined for farms across Eastern Canada and ensure that farmers are able to produce the crops that keep our grocery aisles full. If this strike is allowed to occur, up to one million acres in Eastern Canada may go unfertilized just next week.

“Just as this strike begins, farmers are in a critical spring seeding season,” said Karen Proud, President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada. “As Canada continues to fight Covid-19, our citizens need a food supply that they can count on. Any strike will mean that essential fertilizer products cannot reach farmers in Eastern and Atlantic Canada. This strike threatens food security at a critical juncture.”

Any disruption to the supply chain during this period, even if only for a day or two, will have significant consequences to farmers in these regions, for the price of food and for food security. Product cannot be simply rerouted as nearby ports do not have the necessary capacity to deal with the sudden influx, nor is the railroad infrastructure equipped to move that amount of goods. Similarly, there are not alternatives to fertilizing crops for farmers. If they do not have fertilizer product, the yields for this year and the next will be significantly reduced.

Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 will be led by the agriculture sector and a reliable infrastructure system is key to this success. Inaction by the government during the union’s strike in August 2020 resulted in an economic loss of $600 million – a loss that Canada cannot afford. Even a minor disruption to fertilizer supply, in Quebec could have an impact of over $1 million per day.

Once this issue is resolved, the government must implement a long-term action plan to prevent future labour disputes in services that are essential to Canada’s food chain, as well as economic health and stability.

Collectively, Fertilizer Canada represents the manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers – the backbone of Canada’s agri-food economy. The fertilizer industry adds $23 billion annually to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product and supports over 76,000 jobs, each of which is negatively impacted by this strike.

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