Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House tonight, speaking specifically to the back-to-work legislation for the Port of Montreal. I am pleased to provide a perspective as an Ontario MP, for many of my constituents, businesses and farms that rely on the viability of the port in my part of eastern Ontario. Some parts are only an hour or two away from the port, depending on their part of the riding.
Members have heard me speak in the House several times over the course of the last few months. As a new parliamentarian coming here in the class of 2019, I am judging as constructively as I can the government's performance on numerous files. We have seen the government, and I have said this many times, talk a good game. They say the right things and they have good intentions, but unfortunately we see time and time again their ability to talk and their ability to deliver, and not just have good intentions, but good results, are not happening.
I have spoken several times in the last couple of weeks to constituents, on media interviews and in the House here on different topics, for example, on the border closures, international flights and the debacle that we saw last week. I do not need to tell members or Canadians that in that situation the government should not have been caught by surprise that countries around the world, unfortunately, during COVID-19 would become hot spots or have outbreaks. The situation in India and Pakistan has been terrible, but the government was caught totally flat-footed, and here we are having to react, or they reacted very late to that.
I look at the debate we had on medical assistance in dying, trying to respond to the court ruling in Quebec. Constant extensions and delays were happening, because, I believe, and I think many Canadians believe, the government was talking but not actually delivering, following through or checking things off.
We find ourselves in the same situation here now with the Port of Montreal. The government has failed to bring both parties together to get a resolution. This bill tonight is not something to celebrate or be happy about. This is the result of a failure and a lack of leadership on the part of the federal government.
I want to bring context here tonight of why this matters economically. Many people, maybe those who are not familiar with the Port of Montreal, think it benefits the city of Montreal or maybe some neighbouring communities, but it is a lot more than that. It is the second-busiest port in Canada. There are 140 countries that use the Port of Montreal as a gateway into Canada, and we use that to export around the world. There are 40 million tonnes of cargo, and to put that into context that is 88 billion pounds of cargo, that go through the Port of Montreal every year. It affects every facet of our economy and our well-being. It sees 2,500 trucks a day, 60 to 80 trains a week, $2.6 billion in economic benefit, $250 million in tax revenue, and, here is an important part, 19,000 direct and indirect jobs, many of them well-paying union jobs, which is nothing short of a great thing.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we are dealing with a strike. Back in August 2020, we were in a similar situation for 19 days. We saw what happens. We saw the economic damage it created across the country, the ripple effects and the months it took to get caught up. We also have a problem when it comes to the reputation of reliability at the Port of Montreal, which is important for the employer, the union, thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of workers in this country.
I had the opportunity to speak, and my staff did as well, today to people in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry to get a local impact, but I also know, and I talked to, many colleagues across Ontario. I was speaking, and my team was, with the economic development officer, Bob Peters, from the City of Cornwall. As members may know, I am very proud of my riding and the many businesses that are there. Cornwall is one of three major supply chain hubs in Canada serving the bulk of central Ontario, Quebec and eastern Canada. We are very proud of that. We have thousands of job in Cornwall and in our riding alone that rely on a viable and reliable Port of Montreal in operation.
I think of the issue with the Suez Canal a few weeks ago and the issues that happened when the supply chains were blocked there. The massive economic impact, the ripple effect that it had, was very devastating to many parts of the world. Just-in-time deliveries and reliability matter, not just for those directly in the port but going through that supply chain. It matters, not just to jobs at the port but to jobs across this country.
I think of Laframboise in my riding as well. As a local manufacturer and supplier, it relies on moving products. Benson Auto Parts, proud from the city of Cornwall, founded and originated and grown from there, relies on the Port of Montreal to import its products and to support its staff and its revenues. I do not need to remind this House, and of course all Canadians, that now is not an opportune time to put another economic strain on those supply chains and on our businesses in this country.
Another good friend we were speaking to today was my friend Jim Wert, not only the mayor of the Township of North Stormont but also a very well-respected farmer in our region and beyond, across the province. Jim was reporting that what we have seen, with the threat of closure and now the closure at the Port of Montreal, has already caused a spike in commodity pricing and it has a big effect on agricultural operations. That is not just the case in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I see my colleague behind me from Saskatchewan and I know there are impacts there as well. It ripples right across the country and affects agricultural operations.
This time of the year is a key time for our farmers. There are extremely time-sensitive deliveries that need to get to our farms in planting season, including potash, urea and phosphorous. We cannot have that come in two, three or four months later. We cannot have that being unreliable. Not only does that affect commodity prices on a large scale, but it could cripple and wipe out planting season in many parts of this country.
Beyond my riding, we can look at CN Rail and how it uses the port. There are auto companies like Pfaff Auto in Concord, just north of the 400 and 407 in the GTA. Northern Transformer provides a hundred jobs in Maple, Ontario in that same region. If they cannot get products, if they cannot get what they need through regular deliveries from the Port of Montreal, we could be seeing temporary job losses at a time when our economy cannot sustain that.
It is unfortunate that it has come to this. Already, with just the word of the closure of the port and the stoppage at the port, there has been a 10% drop in shipping volumes. They have gone elsewhere: New York, New Jersey and Norfolk, Virginia. We cannot be seen, at the Port of Montreal, as a country and as an economy that is unreliable.
I want to give credit to my colleagues here on the Conservative side, to our leader and our shadow minister for labour. I think they showed great leadership tonight. There was an amendment that came through the NDP that was supported both by members of the union and labour leaders, and by businesses as well. Our leader listened to both sides for supporting an amendment. Unfortunately, we have to deal with this, and we are supporting back-to-work legislation because it is necessary for our economy.
I close here tonight with my message to union workers and all workers in this country, the tens of thousands who rely on the port being reliable and viable in getting their product. We cannot afford a prolonged work stoppage, and we cannot afford to see those great union jobs at the Port of Montreal be lost because shipping routes and operations change to other ports. I am sorry that the government has not acted in a way that would bring a deal. It is unfortunate that this legislation is before us, but tonight they have seen us support a reasonable amendment in an effort to get the best piece of legislation to get those workers back on the job and to make sure that the bright future at the Port of Montreal is realized, both in the short and long term.
I appreciate the opportunity. As always, I look forward to the comments and questions from my colleagues.