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Small business response to rail blockades

Over the past several weeks, we have answered hundreds of questions and concerns from CFIB members about the impact of the rail blockades on their businesses. We were initially hoping for a quick resolution to this situation. Unfortunately, this has not happened. 

Many of our members have asked for our help—particularly in raising the national profile of the impact they are facing.  

As a result, we have done roughly 100 interviews so far with media across the country, focusing on the impacts our members are facing. CFIB president Dan Kelly has personally fielded about half of these calls. We have also sent an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to resolve this issue quickly and peacefully. 

To better support our members, we conducted a survey assessing the impact of the blockades on small business and issued a news release with the findings.

Based on over 6,800 respondents, our members have told us:

  • 1 in 4 small businesses have been affected by the blockades
  • Another 48% say they will be affected soon
  • The average cost to those affected has been $60,000 so far 

Here are some of their stories.


"Supplies for our production are held up in Vancouver harbour due to protests. This threatens 40 jobs as it prevents us from delivering to our customers. We have US competitors who are more than willing to take our business."

"Many of our agricultural products are shipped by rail (wheat, canola, peas & lentils). Not only is the product not moving, the rail system is at capacity. This means our products will not get out of the country which will drive commodity prices down."

"Our business has lost at least 25% as the protest affects our railway, pipeline, oil, gas and forestry business. We have laid off workers and are very concerned about our future."

"Our company has two shipping containers coming from Germany with equipment worth $750,000. This leaves uncertainty as to when the equipment will arrive in Fort Macleod Alberta so we can install and use - a large overhead for a 1 year old company.”

You can read more testimonials here

What’s next?

Our message has remained clear and consistent: we want a speedy, peaceful and durable resolution to this issue.

We are working with a coalition of 50 other business associations on a joint call to government. We will continue to monitor the situation, support you and represent your interests nationally.

While our survey shows that 90% of members want the federal government to work with provinces and law enforcement on an immediate resolution, we have also heard from some members who feel CFIB should not be involved in this issue.  We take these concerns seriously too, but felt it was important to outline the impact the blockade is having on Canadian SMEs, the economy and Canada’s international reputation.

Please call us at 1-888-234-2232 with any questions or concerns you may have, or to share your story as well. 


February 25, 2020

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