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The logistics and supply chain sectors are bracing for significant disruptions due to potential strikes by Canadian longshoremen. The looming labor actions at key ports, including Vancouver, Montreal, and others, could severely impact trade flows between Canada and the United States. For companies reliant on these ports for importing goods into Canada and exporting to the U.S., understanding the context and preparing contingency plans is crucial.

Context and Current Situation

The Canadian longshoremen, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), are facing ongoing labor disputes that threaten to escalate into full-scale strikes. In British Columbia, tugboat workers affiliated with the Canadian Merchant Service Guild have already been striking over pay issues. This has led to congestion and reduced efficiency at significant ports like Vancouver and Victoria​​.

Meanwhile, the Port of Montreal is dealing with its labor tensions. The Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and union representatives have not agreed with federal mediators to prevent a potential strike. The Port, a critical hub for Eastern Canada, has faced multiple labor stoppages in recent years, disrupting supply chains and affecting the region’s economic stability​​.

Impacts on Trade

For American Companies Importing to Canada: The potential strikes could lead to significant delays and increased costs for U.S. companies exporting goods to Canada. Ports in Vancouver and Montreal are critical entry points for various goods, from consumer products to industrial supplies. Any disruption could mean longer lead times and higher transportation costs as companies might need to reroute shipments through less congested or more reliable ports.

For Canadian Companies Exporting to the U.S.: Canadian exporters will face similar challenges. Delays at ports can disrupt the timely delivery of goods to U.S. markets, affecting everything from agricultural products to manufactured goods. This can lead to stock shortages and potentially strained relationships with American customers who rely on just-in-time delivery systems.

Recommendations for Navigating the Strikes

  1. Diversify Port Usage: Companies should consider diversifying their entry and exit points. Utilizing less congested ports or those not directly impacted by the strikes can help mitigate delays. For instance, U.S. East Coast or Gulf Coast ports might serve as viable alternatives.
  2. Increase Inventory Levels: To buffer against potential delays, increasing inventory levels in key markets can provide a cushion. While this may increase capital, it can ensure business continuity and customer satisfaction.
  3. Strengthen Supplier Relationships: Open communication with suppliers and logistics partners is essential. By sharing information and collaborating on contingency plans, companies can better navigate disruptions and find alternative solutions more swiftly.
  4. Leverage Technology: Utilizing advanced logistics and supply chain management technologies can provide greater visibility into shipment statuses and potential delays. Real-time tracking and predictive analytics can help in making informed decisions quickly.
  5. Engage in Proactive Contract Management: Reviewing and renegotiating contracts with carriers and suppliers to include clauses that account for potential delays and disruptions can provide legal and financial safeguards.
  6. Stay Informed: Regularly monitor updates from reliable sources on labor disputes and potential strikes. Being informed allows for timely adjustments to strategies and operations.


The potential strikes by Canadian longshoremen present a significant challenge for the logistics and supply chain sectors. However, with proactive planning and strategic adjustments, companies can mitigate the impacts and maintain the flow of goods across borders.

Dedola Global Logistics, with its 50 years of experience in ocean and air freight forwarding, remains committed to supporting businesses in navigating these complex disruptions and ensuring seamless logistics operations.

For more information on how Dedola Global Logistics can assist you during this period, please contact us directly.