Prepare Now for Possible Delays at the Canadian Border

There have been some big news headlines this week about changes in immigration policy at the US-Mexico border. But far less attention has been focused on a looming labor strike at the US-Canadian border that could have significant implications for logistics teams in both countries. 

The 9500 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada — the union representing border agents — have been working without a contract for over two years. But they’ve threatened to strike as soon as Friday, June 7, if they fail to reach a deal with the Canadian government this week. The threat is very real, as 96% of border agents voted in favor of a strike in May.  

While mediation continues, shippers on both sides of the border need to prepare now for the fallout of a strike. Since border agents are considered essential workers, the border won’t be shut down completely. But companies moving trucks across the border can expect lengthy delays in processing their customs paperwork. A similar labor dispute in 2021 resulted in border-crossing delays of up to five hours. 

Heading into the weekend, shippers should watch for inbound Canadian loads to face higher scrutiny from carrier partners, and for an immediate impact to transit delays. How this impacts capacity returning back to the United States for next weeks freight is still unknown, however we would watch for this border disruption to have at least some impact to next weeks potential inbound Canadian truck supply. 

So what can you do to prepare? Redwood customers are already working with us to consider that question. We’re looking at volume projections for different crossing points, to optimize routes for time- and cost-effectiveness. Because of its high volumes, the Detroit-Windsor crossing will probably feel the most significant impacts of a strike. We’re also helping customers explore a temporary shift to rail transportation, to avoid customs processing at the border. But this is a complex problem, because ocean, air and rail modes will all likely feel the effects. 

The threatened labor strike at the Canadian border is just another example of the kinds of ongoing disruptions shippers need to be prepared for. From extreme weather to sudden demand swings, today’s volatile freight market poses constant challenges. Shippers that are already partnering with Redwood — whether on network design, managed transportation or procurement — have a definite advantage when the unexpected occurs. We’ve been watching the situation in Canada and proactively preparing our customers for weeks.  

Is your supply chain positioned to manage for these kinds of contingencies? If not, reach out to Redwood and start leveraging our deep expertise and intelligent insights to your advantage. And stay tuned for updates as the situation in Canada becomes clearer.