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25% of small businesses impacted negatively by rail blockades: CFIB

Survey says companies have lost an average of $60,000 since the start of the disruptions.

February 25, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — Nearly a quarter of businesses say they have already been negatively affected by the ongoing rail blockades, while another 48% expect they will feel the impacts soon, according to preliminary data from a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The association representing small businesses, including manufacturers, said affected businesses 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.”

Many small businesses depend on rail service to receive supplies and get their products to market. Sixty two per cent are very worried about the impacts of the blockades on their business. Nine in 10 business owners said that the federal government should make it a priority to work with the provinces and law enforcement agencies to ensure rail service is resumed.

Small businesses in the four western provinces were affected the most, followed by those in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Agriculture has been hardest hit, followed by wholesale, natural resources, transportation and manufacturing.

The survey was sent to business owners on Feb. 21 and is still open. So far there have been 6,802 responses.

Here are some examples of how the blockades are hurting businesses:

• A business owner who depends on importing and exporting goods has lost over $80,000 and had to lay off all staff as overseas shipping rates have tripled in price.

• An Alberta company is waiting for $750,000 in equipment from Germany, stalling their operation.

• A business reports that shipments of vital medical equipment for patients have been stopped.

• Agriculture businesses are unable to get their product to market, get paid, clear space in grain elevators for new product and receive fertilizer for this year’s planting.


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