Canadian border services officers (BSOs) have voted in favour of strike action, although the impact of their decision is still unknown. According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), 90% of BSOs have been identified as essential workers, leaving them legally unable to withhold essential services.
The BSOs, represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, will be in a legal strike position next week. The union has said that a strike could cause a “significant disruption to the flow of goods”; the CBSA, on the other hand, has warned only of the possibility of an increase in border wait times and picketing outside CBSA premises. The agency said it has developed mitigation strategies to ensure operations will continue.
Canada’s BSOs have worked without a contract since 2018. They are pushing for pay parity with other Canadian law enforcement officers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that negotiations between the government and the union are under way, and he hopes to see an agreement reached before any disruptions can occur.
If a meaningful strike takes place, Canada’s shippers may have further disruptions to deal with. The Port of Vancouver, on Canada’s Pacific coast, is already coping with delays caused by Covid and current wildfires in the province. The Port of Montreal is contending with a low water level in the St. Lawrence River that Maersk has reported is causing some container rolling to reduce vessel weights.