Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise today to discuss the issue of the work stoppage at Canadian Pacific Railway.
The failure to resolve the labour dispute between CP and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, or the TCRC, is having an extremely negative impact on our economy. We heard that earlier from our Minister of Labour.
Knowing that today one in five Canadian jobs depends on exports, it is clear that our prosperity hinges on opening new markets for Canadian goods, services, and investments. Canada is a trading nation, and trading countries must be able to count on a reliable and effective transportation system, including a railway system. This work stoppage at CP could have negative repercussions on Canada's reputation as a reliable trading partner.
CP is one of our two largest railways and plays a pivotal role in North America's supply chain for getting goods to and from Canadian and international markets. CP's rail network spans 22,000 kilometres from the port of Metro Vancouver to the port of Montreal and into parts of the U.S. northeast and the Midwest. CP plays a significant role in moving the majority of Canada's forest products, agriculture and agri-food products, petroleum products, cereal grains, coal, and consumer and manufactured goods, including automobiles.
Here we are today with a disrupted railway system. We have to take the situation very seriously. This is about keeping the Canadian economy healthy and prosperous. It is about making sure Canadian jobs are protected. It is about ensuring that Canadians are able to distribute their products across Canada and the United States. A responsible government must show leadership and act in the interests of all Canadians. That is exactly why we are doing everything we can to help the parties arrive at an agreement.
Let me give an idea of how badly the work stoppage at CP is affecting our economy. A work stoppage in rail transportation in Canada has such an important impact on so many people and industries that the cumulative effects are significant. For example, a railway stoppage could cause layoffs in manufacturing and automobile production. The work stoppage at CP will have other major impacts on workers and their families. I am talking not just about job losses, but also about the broader impact for the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on the goods carried by rail.
A work stoppage at CP would also have an adverse impact on the movement of grain, which is only now returning to normal conditions following last year's backlog. As members may recall, in March of last year our government introduced an order in council to ensure that the supply chain operates effectively in delivering Canadian grain to market.
It is not just the industries that rely on freight that will be affected. The railways also provide the tracks for commuters in our country's three largest cities of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. A strike will create slowdowns and congestion in these vital cities.
The economic cost of a work stoppage at CP is profound and will cost our economy an estimated decline of $205 million in GDP per week. We just cannot afford such a loss of productivity and revenue. The world economy is more interdependent than ever before, and a work stoppage like this one will affect both inbound and outbound goods and merchandise in Canada. Our industries could take years to recover from lost business and lost investments caused by this work stoppage. The strike will only further exacerbate the uncertain state of our fragile global economy.
It is clear that we as parliamentarians have an important role to play in helping the parties to resolve this situation. Our economy must be protected. Our products must reach their markets, and Canadian jobs must be preserved.
Canada offers some of the best working conditions in the world and we have a solid reputation for having safe, fair, and productive workplaces.
The Canada Labour Code establishes a framework for collective bargaining so that representatives of both employees and employers have an opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment.
Our government is doing everything possible to help the parties find a resolution.
Let me explain how we got to this point in the dispute. The collective agreement for CP running trades employees expired on December 31, 2014. In mid-November 2014, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service received a notice of dispute from CP.
Of course, since that time, we have continued to make every effort to help both parties reach an agreement. We offered the parties every resource and support set out in the Canada Labour Code, including the appointment of conciliation officers and mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, to help them reach a resolution. There have been numerous meetings between the employer, the union, and FMCS officials, with the aim of resolving the dispute. Moreover, the Minister of Labour has encouraged representatives from CP and the TCRC to continue working together to reach an agreement.
On February 15, a work stoppage began.
A negotiated agreement is always the best solution to any labour dispute. We are still hoping that CP and the TCRC will find a way to resolve their differences. However, we must also be prepared to act to ensure the resumption of rail services at CP.
The entire Canadian population will feel the impact of this work stoppage, not only Canadian businesses. We need to do everything we can to keep our economy rolling. To do that, we have to ensure that CP resumes its operations. We must do what is necessary to protect our economy, our workers, and our businesses. All members of this House must act in the best interest of all Canadians.
For this reason, I stand here today to urge all hon. members to quickly pass this act to provide for the resumption of rail service operations. I strongly encourage each of my colleagues to support the bill so that we can continue creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.