by Morinville News Staff
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed have been negatively impacted by ongoing rail blockades. Another 48 per cent expect they will feel the impacts soon. CFIB says the businesses affected report they have lost an average of $60,000 since the start of the blockades.
“The continued disruption of rail service is quickly becoming a crisis for small businesses,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “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. While there are no easy answers to this complex issue, the risks of inaction are significant too.”
CFIB says many of the businesses surveyed depend on rail service to receive supplies and get their products to market. Many of those lack cash reserves to weather prolonged service interruptions.
The same survey indicates 90% of those surveyed believe the federal government should make it a priority to work with the provinces and law enforcement agencies to ensure rail service is resumed.
“This situation could have consequences for small businesses and Canada’s economy as a whole that extend well beyond the blockades,” added Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB vice-president, Western Canada and Agri-business. “In addition to being concerned about their own reputation, 97 per cent of Alberta business owners (90% nationally) are telling us they worry about how the blockades will affect investor confidence in Canada. When you analyze the data by sectors, we found 97 per cent of respondents in the Natural Resources sector and 95 per cent in the Agriculture sector said they are concerned the blockades will affect investor confidence in Canada.”
CFIB says businesses in the four western provinces were most affected, followed by those in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Agriculture was hardest hit, followed by wholesale, natural resources, transportation and manufacturing.
The survey was sent to business owners on February 21. CFIB has received 6,802 responses so far as well as more than a thousand examples of how the blockades are hurting individual businesses.