Canadian small businesses hurting because of the rail blockades, survey says
Protesters stand on the closed train tracks on the ninth day of the blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
CALGARY -- Small business owners are being faced with a "crisis" as rail disruption continues throughout Canada, a new report shows.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says nearly a quarter of small businesses have been negatively impacted by the ongoing blockades and another 48 per cent anticipate they will feel the impact very soon.
“The continued disruption of rail service is quickly becoming a crisis for small businesses,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly in a release. “Many business owners across the country are telling us they have already had to suspend operations, lay off staff or ration supplies. Many are in danger of losing important contracts to other international competitors and they worry about how this will hurt their reputation with clients going forward."
The CFIB says many small businesses in Canada rely on rail lines for supplies to get their products to market and aren't able to handle a prolonged interruption.
The survey also found 62 per cent are worried about the impact of the protests on their business and nine in 10 of business owners want the federal government to work with provinces and police to ensure the blockages are cleared.
A great deal of Alberta business owners (97 per cent) are also concerned about the dispute's impact on investor confidence.
The survey, which was sent to business owners earlier this week, is still open and the CFIB says they've already received more than 7,000 responses.
Some of the notable examples are:
- A Fort Macleod, Alta. company left waiting for $750,000 in equipment from Germany
- A business owner who imports and exports goods has lost over $80,000 and has had to lay off all their staff
- A sign producer for retailers has missed deadlines and has had to deal with frustrated customers
- A restaurant renovation has been stalled because materials to finish the job are not getting to them
Kelly says the government ultimately needs a plan to deal with these situations in the future.
"Canada needs a clear path forward to balance economic development, environmental policy and Indigenous land rights to avoid repeating this situation and restore investor confidence."