CN Rail strike puts a squeeze on propane distribution

 As the CN Rail strike continues, the president and CEO of Propane Canada says there's little worry over the quantity of propane available across the country. 

Instead, Natalie St-Pierre said the issue is delivering all of that propane — especially to parts of Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Quebec Premier François Legault described on Thursday the province's propane supply situation as an "emergency," adding that the province's supply is set to run out within a few days. 

St-Pierre said Sarnia is a "big hub for propane," adding that 85 per cent of propane shipped to Quebec is delivered by rail. 

As a result of Sarnia's position as a propane hub, truckers in the area attempted to access propane supplies have reported hours-long delays.

Meagan Fitzpatrick/CBC

"Because there is no access to rail right now, obviously everybody's looking at getting some supplies through going to Sarnia and getting it trucked somewhere," said St-Pierre.

At the same time, St-Pierre said there's even some pressure to transport propane throughout parts on Ontario.

"Some of the farmers are being told that they can no longer expect to have propane to dry their crops, because propane has to be saved for priorities like heating the barns and heating the homes," said St-Pierre.

She said it's not clear how much longer the CN Rail strike is expected to last, adding that her organization is "trying really hard to work with CN to get some propane on the rails to reduce the pressure in Sarnia."

"We know that there is a shipment that has left Edmonton [Friday], [and is] expected to be around Quebec by Monday," said St-Pierre. "Hopefully that would bring some relief."

The CN Rail strike began on Nov. 16, when thousands of conductors, trainpersons and yard workers took to picket lines.