N.S. fuel company trucking in propane due to shortage fears

At least one home heating fuel supplier in Nova Scotia is trucking propane into the province due to fears about shortages during the CN Rail strike. 

The majority of the propane used in Nova Scotia is transported by rail. As a strike at CN Rail closes in on one week, Wilson Fuel in Halifax is turning to alternatives.

"We are trucking in product," said Ian Wilson, the president of Wilson Fuel. "That supply chain is very long and because it's not the norm to go that far afield for propane and there just aren't that many trucks, it's certainly not going to make up for the rail supply."

Wilson Fuel typically gets all of its propane by rail.

The strike at CN began last Tuesday. About 3,200 conductors, train and yard workers say they have concerns about long hours, fatigue and what they say are dangerous working conditions.

Price holding steady

Wilson said the price of propane has not been affected by the labour stoppage. While the strike continues, the company is rationing propane and not filling tanks completely in order to make sure there's enough to go around. 

He said the company is treating its home heating customers as the highest priority. 

"We're asking those customers, especially larger customers who have alternate forms of heating and energy to try to make use of those, to try to make the supplies that are on hand last a little bit longer," he said. 

Wilson is hoping the labour dispute will be settled quickly.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

"Hopefully between the parties at CN they can come to their own agreement, and if not, we certainly advocate that the federal government get involved and restore what is an essential service," he said. 

Senators urge early resumption of Parliament

On Monday, a trio of Maritime senators wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to recall Parliament before the throne speech scheduled for Dec. 5 in order to debate legislation to end the work stoppage.

"The CN Rail strike is resulting in supply chain disruptions that are impacting both the people and industries of the Maritime provinces," wrote Senators Diane Griffin of P.E.I., Stephen Green of Nova Scotia and David Richards of New Brunswick. 

"Ideally, CN and its employees will reach an agreement soon. However, there must be a backup plan in the event that they do not."

The senators wrote that the propane shortage is affecting farms, hospitals and nursing homes and that truck shipments will be insufficient if the Maritimes cannot produce enough to meet demand.