Statement by the Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi


April 27, 2021              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, the Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, issued the following statement regarding the situation at the Port of Montreal:

“The Port of Montreal is critical to the economic wellbeing of Canadians across the country, particularly those in Quebec and Ontario. The current work stoppage at the Port is causing significant and potentially long-lasting harm to Canada’s economy and reputation as a reliable global trading partner. The stoppage is disrupting supply chains that have already been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For over two and a half years, the Government of Canada has provided the Syndicat des débardeurs, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 375 (CUPE Local 375) and the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) with extensive bargaining support to help them reach a new negotiated collective agreement. Since October 2018, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has facilitated over 100 days of mediated bargaining. In addition, my colleagues and I have been in contact with the parties on numerous occasions to urge them to work with mediators to reach a deal. However, despite this substantial support and multiple work stoppages – including 15 days of full work stoppage in the summer of 2020 – the parties remain far apart.

The Government of Canada is firmly committed to free collective bargaining as the basis for sound labour relations. We also recognize the important role that unions play in standing up for hard working Canadians. However, when there is no indication the parties will be able to reach a negotiated agreement, all other efforts have been exhausted, and  a work stoppage is causing significant economic harm to Canadians – the Government must act.

Regrettably, the Government must now pursue its least desired course of action. Bill C-29, introduced today, would end the work stoppage at the Port of Montreal and ensure the safe resumption and continuation of operations at the Port. Additionally, the bill would establish a neutral mediation-arbitration process to resolve the issues in dispute between the parties and conclude a new collective agreement. The Government is not taking sides. Both parties would have opportunities to present their positions to an impartial mediator-arbitrator charged with resolving all matters in dispute.

The Government of Canada does not pursue this course of action lightly and is disappointed that negotiations have devolved to this point, despite consistent federal support. Nothing in the legislation prevents the parties from concluding an agreement on their own terms at any point in this process. The Government continues to support the parties and strongly encourages them to reach a negotiated agreement immediately."

Associated Links
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service


For media enquiries, please contact:

Lars Wessman
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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