Home Workplace News Ottawa launches Industrial Inquiry Commission to tackle labour disputes at West Coast ports

Ottawa launches Industrial Inquiry Commission to tackle labour disputes at West Coast ports

by HR Law Canada

The federal government has launched an Industrial Inquiry Commission to investigate persistent labour issues at the West Coast ports, which have experienced significant disruptions affecting the national supply chain.

The initiative, announced by Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr., seeks to address the economic impacts of disputes including strikes and lockouts, highlighting the need for durable solutions that bolster both stability and the collective bargaining process.

Minister O’Regan emphasized that the health of Canada’s ports is crucial not only for the local businesses and workers who rely directly on them but also for maintaining the country’s reputation as a reliable trading partner. “The workers and businesses that depend on our West Coast ports deserve long-term solutions. They deserve solutions that respect the collective bargaining process. They deserve stability and certainty in our supply chains,” said O’Regan.

The commission is chaired by Vincent L. Ready, a distinguished mediator and arbitrator with extensive experience in labour relations across Canada. Joining him is Amanda Rogers, a seasoned arbitrator and lawyer, well-versed in workplace dispute resolution. Their investigation will include consultations with key stakeholders and a review of submissions from relevant parties. The findings and recommendations are scheduled to be reported in Spring 2025.

This inquiry was prompted by the economic disruptions last summer, marked by severe disturbances at Canadian ports, which Minister O’Regan pointed out should not be caused by a single dispute. These disruptions underscored the vital role that ports play in the country’s supply chain network.

The inquiry’s establishment follows preliminary work by independent experts Anthony Giles and Kevin Banks, who in October 2023 identified critical questions and proposed a framework for a more detailed review of the issues at the West Coast ports. This review is part of a broader governmental effort, backed by a $3.1 million budget over two years starting in 2024, to minimize labour disputes and uphold the collective bargaining process across the nation’s ports.

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