Railway blockades paralyze supply chains and threaten Canadian economy

Railway blockades paralyze supply chains and threaten Canadian economy

On February 6, protesters started blocking railways at crucial points across British Columbia (BC), Canada in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation indigenous group to oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. The anti-pipeline protest grew into a nationwide movement that paralyzed tightly linked rail and sea traffic and severely impacted manufacturing supply chains, which rely on rail service to bring in components and to transport finished products to customers. Port operations in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, BC, have been heavily impacted, which further disrupted imports at multiple ports in Canada, including in Montreal and Halifax. Operations at the ports of Halifax and Montreal have been gradually improving, with ports working on reducing cargo backlogs and dwell times, but it is likely to take several days for operations to normalize.

The ongoing blockades have compromised the supply of propane, chlorine, lumber, and wheat for the entire country. Montreal Gateway Terminals (MGT), a rail, trucking, and shipping hub, declared force majeure for all inland rail cargo on February 20. Chemical makers Olin Corp. and Invista have also declared force majeure, impacting the availability of chemical products. As of March 2, negotiations to resolve the conflict have progressed and a tentative agreement has been reached. As the draft agreement is confirmed by First Nation leaders, supply chains in Canada will likely begin to recover. Resilience360 takes a closer look at the regions that have been impacted most by the anti-pipeline protests and what companies with suppliers in these regions can do to mitigate the impact of the rail blockades in the event that such disruptions occur again.

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