UPA president pushes for longer-term planning following strike resolution

The CN Rail strike lasted eight days, causing a logistical nightmare across Canada and inducing a propane shortage for Quebec. While regular service is set to resume November 27th, without changes these types of shortages could happen again, says the Quebec farmers union (l’Union des producteurs agricoles, UPA).

Marcel Groleau, president of UPA, says the organization is happy to see an agreement has been reached with the railway, and he hopes producers can get back to the work they had to either slow down, or even stop completely, due to the shortage of propane caused by the strike.

Groleau says harvest conditions were less than ideal this year, and 50 per cent or more of the corn crop remains in the field, which is added stress.

“With the corn (coming off) being very wet, and having snow earlier than normal, (it’s been) the worst condition possible for producers, and if you add that to the low supply of propane, it’s all the ingredients for the worst situation ever in our area,” he says.

“We hope now that the propane will be available to our producers (sooner than later).”

When it comes to the protest that took place at Justin Trudeau’s constituency office, Groleau says it was needed to get a message across. He says they weren’t protesting the union deal but rather pushing the prime minister to pressure CN to move propane movement to a higher priority. He says the prime minister needed to take the situation seriously, as it was not only the grain producers affected, but also pork, poultry, and veal producers need propane.

“If you stay at home and wait, you’re sure of one thing, you will not influence the situation,” he says in regards to mounds of corn being emptied on the steps into the constituency office.

In regards to the future, he says they will have to look at what to do to prevent these types of situations. One suggestion being to build warehouses and fill it with a stock supply of propane come the fall.

“We will have to review the way we are supplied and how much stock (we retain), and see if it’s enough (for the long term) for the need that we have,” he says adding that there needs to be a plan for future disruptions should they arise.

Listen to the full interview below with UPA’s Marcel Groleau.

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