Canadian farmers won’t have to worry about grain movement coming to a complete halt.
A tentative deal between the federal government and workers with the Public Sector Alliance of Canada union has been reached. The Canadian Grain Commission is within PSAC. Only Canada Revenue Agency workers remain on the picket lines.
President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, Gunter Jochum, who farms west of Winnipeg, was “relieved” that a deal was reached.
“The strike thank goodness wasn’t long enough to cause any delays but we were getting very close,” said Jochum. “I talked to the Chief Commissioner (Doug Chorney) at the Grain Commission and he was very worried; he said management was working 7 days a week and if there was any kind of downtime from any of the managers, they would have fallen behind very quickly.”
Bill Prybylski of Willowbrook is a Vice-President with the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, and also welcomed the news of a tentative deal in place.
He says, however, the strike likely had an adverse effect on producers who rely on services from the Canadian Grain Commission and AgriStability.
“I don’t know of any specific examples of how it’s affected anybody in particular but the potential is definitely there for some delays in processing of applications for different programs and grain movement was at-risk if the strike carried on for any length of time,” said Prybylski. “Going forward we hope that these kinds of things can be resolved before it leads to any disruptions in grain movement or fertilizer movement ’cause we know how critical that is, especially at this time of year.”
But Prybylski stops short of suggesting that PSAC workers should be subject to essential services legislation.
“Obviously from our perspective that would be good to see, not sure that that’s a realistic ask but something like that would be useful or just some willingness from both sides to be proactive and get things done before it gets to this strike position.”
As for Jochum, he is calling on the federal government to consider updating the role of the Canadian Grain Commission regarding grain inspection.
Jochum says it is done well by private, third-party inspectors, which currently inspect 70 percent of grain that’s to be exported. The Grain Commission also inspects grain, but he sees it as duplicity, creating an added cost to farmers.
“It’s time to bring the Grain Commission and the Grain Act up-to-date, and the (federal) government should start reviewing both the Grain Act and the Grain Commission’s role.
“We’re not asking to get rid of the Grain Commission, we’re just asking to have a review of the Grain Commission and transition it into a regulator, rather than an actual service provider.”
(With files from CJGX)