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Maritime senators call on Trudeau to summon Parliament early over CN Rail strike

Click to play video: 'Workers at Halifax Gypsum directly affected with temporary layoffs amidst CN Rail strike' Workers at Halifax Gypsum directly affected with temporary layoffs amidst CN Rail strike
WATCH (Nov. 22, 2019): Workers at Halifax Gypsum directly affected by temporary layoffs amid CN rail strike – Nov 22, 2019

Three senators from the Maritime provinces are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to summon Parliament before next week in order to resolve the Canadian National Railway strike.

In a letter addressed to Trudeau on Monday, senators Diane Griffin (Prince Edward Island), Stephen Greene (Nova Scotia) and David Richards (New Brunswick) say the strike has disrupted supply chains and trade in the Maritime provinces. 

READ MORE: ‘Every option is always on the table’ — Minister Bibeau as CN strike enters Day 7

“We urge you to summon Parliament ahead of the planned Speech from the Throne on December 5th in order to debate legislation to resolve the labour dispute,” they wrote in the letter. 

The CN Rail strike involves 3,200 workers and is on its seventh day. The workers’ demands include improved working conditions and rest breaks.

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A spokesperson for the union representing the workers told Reuters on Monday that they are no closer to reaching a deal than when the strike began. 

READ MORE: CN says strike could prompt temporary layoffs at Halifax port

Click to play video: 'Farmers in Quebec rally, calling for end to CN Rail strike' Farmers in Quebec rally, calling for end to CN Rail strike
Farmers in Quebec rally, calling for end to CN Rail strike – Nov 22, 2019

The letter from the Maritime senators said the strike means reliable delivery of propane shipments to their region has been negatively impacted, and propane reserves in the Maritimes are “depleting.”

This has an effect on farmers, who rely on propane to dry their crops and heat their barns and greenhouses, and on hospitals and nursing homes, which rely on propane for heat,” they wrote.

The strike has impacted regions across Canada, with difficulty getting grain to market in the Prairies and a shortfall of propane in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

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READ MORE: Worried Quebec farmers stage protest over propane shortages due to CN Rail strike

“Truck shipments from central Canada will be insufficient if demand for propane exceeds domestic Maritime production capacity,” the letter reads.

The letter notes the senators hope that a deal between CN Rail and the workers will materialize but want a “backup plan” in case that doesn’t happen. 

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said earlier on Monday that there is no timeline for whether or not the federal government will intervene in the strike, but all options, including back-to-work legislation, remain on the table.

When reached for comment, Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi said the government “believes in the collective bargaining process.”

“I’m encouraged that both parties continue to negotiate,” she said. “Federal mediators are still assisting both parties. I am monitoring the situation closely.”

Click to play video: 'Garneau says CN strike impact is felt across the country, mediation needed' Garneau says CN strike impact is felt across the country, mediation needed
Garneau says CN strike impact is felt across the country, mediation needed – Nov 22, 2019

With files by Global News’ David Baxter, Bryan Mullan

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