Small business in Point Roberts worries about possible CBSA strike

With the threat of a possible Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) strike looming, small business owners near the Canada-U.S. border are anxious about the possible impact of job action on their livelihoods.

Ali Hayton owns a grocery store in Point Roberts, a community that is part of Washington state but is located on the southern tip of Tsawwassen peninsula and only has land access through Canada.

Because of this, Hayton is totally reliant on truck drivers transporting goods through the border, since all of her merchandise comes from the United States.

She says she’s concerned about receiving deliveries on time as well as the impact on tourism, noting that one of the CBSA’s strike tactics in 2021 was to slow down the processing times at borders.

In addition, she says the possible CBSA strike makes it difficult for her to estimate how much merchandise she needs to order for her store, especially since orders are placed so far in advance.

“Do I order it thinking I’m going to have 8,000 people here over the next weekend, or do I do it thinking … that they’re going to be on strike, and I’m only going to have half of that?” Hayton said.

She says she wants the CBSA workers to get a good contract, but hopes that negotiations wrap up just in time for the uptick in summer travel.

On Friday, the Customs and Immigration Union – part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada – representing 9,000 workers at the CBSA said a possible border agent strike is on hold as mediation talks between both sides will continue until Wednesday.

Union officials said a new strike deadline would be announced “in the coming days” and that job action remains possible if an agreement cannot be reached at the table.