CPA Public Affairs
December 2019

Federal: Full review of CPA's activities - Ensuring propane supplies during and post CN strike

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The announcement that CN and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference reached a tentative agreement to end the labour impasse at CN is far from the end of the story. Now the clear focus of the industry is getting propane supplies back to normal levels.

In a news release on November 26, the day the strike ended, CPA Chair Dan Kelly made it clear that the industry will continue to feel the impact of the strike for at least the next several weeks.

Despite the end of the strike, CPA members, particularly in Ontario, Québec and Atlantic Canada, will still be faced with the logistical challenges of getting the supply chain back to normal.

The CPA is working with CN to ensure that they clearly understand that the replenishing of propane is a priority in the aftermath of the strike. This is especially important given the arrival of winter, which means an acute need for propane by customers.

As Kelly noted, “Our customers are our priority and CPA members are reaching out to them to ensure that they understand we are working as hard as possible to get levels back (to pre-strike levels) as quickly as we can. We knew that the drastic reduction in rail support during the strike was going to impact the logistics in the immediate aftermath of the strike and now we are working diligently to get supply back to normal.”

From the CPA’s perspective, what needs to be discussed going forward are ways to ensure that Canadian consumers of propane are not disadvantaged due to labour unrest.

 “Canadians have a great deal of confidence in propane as a safe, affordable, abundant and essential energy source,” said Kelly. “The CPA will work with governments, the railways and our stakeholder groups to ensure that the challenges that presented themselves as a result of the CN strike are not repeated in the future.”

CPA activity timeline

During the strike, the CPA reached out to all parties involved in the strike – CN Rail, government, agriculture associations, among others – to encourage quick resolution to the strike. The Association also enacted its own crisis communications plan to respond to the situation and ensure that the propane industry was not viewed in a negative light as a result of the strike.

The CPA thanks members for acting on the Call to Actions and contacting MPs, as well as all their support and assistance in gathering information about CN rail logistics and propane supplies across Canada.

The following is a timeline of the CPA’s activities (which can also be viewed on the website):

  • November 29, 2019 - CPA issues press release: Predictable and efficient rail transportation of propane must remain a national priority
  • November 28, 2019 - CPA writes a second letter to Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe, Chair of the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Federation, calling upon Canada's 13 premiers to help ensure propane delivery for Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada is prioritized as the CN system gets back to normal following the recent strike. 
  • November 26, 2019 - CPA issues press release: Despite end of CN strike, logistical challenges remain for propane industry
  • November 26, 2019Tentative deal reached between CN and TCRC.
  • November 25, 2019 - CPA sends second call to action to members, urging them to write to their local MPs: Remaining propane supplies in Québec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada are dangerously low and it is urgent that crucial activities fuelled by propane in Canada can continue.
  • November 25, 2019 - CPA writes a letter to Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe, Chair of the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Federation, to request the support of provincial and territorial governments in petitioning for an immediate resolution to the CN Rail strike.
  • November 22, 2019 - CPA speaks with Transport Minister Marc Garneau. The government continues to believe the quickest way to resolve the dispute is through collective bargaining, but the CPA believes action is needed now.
  • November 21, 2019 - CPA requests meeting with reappointed Minister of Transport.
  • November 21, 2019 - CN releases update on collective bargaining with the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference (TCRC- CTY).
  • November 19, 2019 - CPA sends a call to action to its members requesting that they contact their local federal MP.
  • November 19, 2019 - CPA issues press release calling for negotiations between CN and TCRC to be concluded immediately, ensuring continued propane transportation across the country.
  • November 15, 2019 - CPA writes a letter to Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to express its concern regarding any stoppage of rail transportation of propane should an impasse occur in negotiations between Canadian National Railway Ltd. and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

Media interest in the CPA’s response was extremely high. CPA President and CEO Natalie St-Pierre participated in more than 30 interviews during and after the strike. Click here to view these stories.


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