Brothers and Sisters,
In the coming months, negotiations regarding a Canada-U.K. Free Trade Agreement will begin. As with previous Free Trade Agreements, these negotiations have the potential to harm the livelihoods of all Canadian seafarers by opening Cabotage. We are urging all Members of the SIU of Canada to write to their Members of Parliament to bring this to their attention and make it known that SIU of Canada Members will not sit back and allow our jobs to be sacrificed as a bargaining chip.
The SIU of Canada has written the below email template that Members can copy and paste to email to their local Members of Parliament. To find your Member of Parliament, please go to the website below and type in your postal code. This will bring up your local MP and you can then go to ‘contact’ to find their email address where you can send the below letter. We must act together in unison in order to have our voices heard. We are stronger together!
Subject: Canada’s Negotiators Must Protect the Domestic Marine Shipping Sector in Canada-UK Trade Negotiations
Dear [Member of Parliament],
My name is [Insert Name] and I am one of thousands of hardworking members of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada working in Canada’s marine sector. Workers in the domestic shipping industry are deeply concerned with the Government of Canada’s upcoming negotiations with the United Kingdom regarding a Canada-U.K. Free Trade Agreement.
Canadian seafarers working on board Canadian vessels are responsible for moving goods and passengers throughout the Country. We provide a critical service and ensure the fluidity of Canada’s supply chains. We know what it takes to get the job done and we are committed to our trade despite the fact that most of the general public do not realize we exist. Canada’s seafarers are responsible for transporting the majority of all goods Canadians use every day and without us the supply chain would quickly come to a halt. Despite the integral role that we occupy within the economy and our importance to Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast, the Government of Canada often makes decisions without considering what the impact of those decisions may have on our livelihood. We understand that there may be significant interest in including maritime transport services, including cabotage, as part of the upcoming free trade negotiations with the UK, however, we must insist that you consider our position during all trade talks.
Many of us both live and work along Canada’s waterways and coastal regions and we take great pride in our work as we have a vested interest in the protection of both our environment and the health and safety of the communities we serve. Nobody knows Canadian waterways like we do and many of us have grown up on the water. For some of us, our ancestors also worked these waterways. Cabotage regulations play an important role in ensuring that this essential maritime knowledge and skill-set is retained by requiring the use Canadian and permanent resident seafarers and Canadian vessels to move goods and passengers within Canada. The potential dismantling of Cabotage regulations as a result of these trade negotiations could harm not only our environment but threaten all jobs in the marine transportation sector.
In upcoming trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, the Government of Canada must do everything in its power to ensure that Canada’s marine sector cabotage regulations are defended and maintained in their current form. Dismantling our current cabotage system, or trading it away, will increase Canada’s reliance on foreign shipping, further worsen supply chain issues and backlogs and threatens to put my fellow brothers and sisters of the sea out of work. Recent data shows that there are 28,000 seafarers working in Canada with a workforce GDP value of over $1.9 billion dollars, while the industry itself transports over $100 billion dollars worth of goods annually.
Our country cannot afford to risk these jobs or this industry that is critical to Canada’s domestic trade network. There are some things that must be defended during trade negotiations and simply cannot be on the table. Canada’s seafarers cannot be a bargaining chip.
Seafarers’ International Union of Canada