Parliament Hill Carpenters' Strike Costlier Than Freedom Convoy Protest: Public Works Document

Parliament Hill Carpenters' Strike Costlier Than Freedom Convoy Protest: Public Works Document
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland testifies during the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency surrounding the government's use of the Emergencies Act in February, in Ottawa on June 14, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Andrew Chen

A document produced by Department of Public Works staff says the Freedom Convoy protest cost millions by slowing down construction work on Parliament Hill, but acknowledged that the effect of an unrelated carpenters' strike was more substantial.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, a staff briefing note titled Status of the Long Term Vision and Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct says the protest "stopped work on the Centre Block from January 28 to February 23," and that the cost of the delay is "estimated at $3 million."

The Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed until 2031 while they undergo a $5 billion refit. The Freedom Convoy protest cost about $190,000 per day, the briefing note says.

However, Public Works said a strike by the Carpenters’ District of Ontario (ODCO) from May 9 to May 27 had a bigger impact.

“For three weeks in May several construction industry unions went on strike including crane, equipment and elevator operators, demolition labourers and carpenters,” the briefing note reads.

“These strikes had significant impacts on construction projects across the province of Ontario including the Centre Block rehabilitation,” it says. “This strike action halted all major construction activity on site with the exception of the masonry rehabilitation on the Centre Block which continued to progress but at a much slower pace."

"Schedule and cost impacts are currently under review now that strike action has ceased and will be largely dependent on increases in labour rates," the note added, without providing figures.

In a May 12 press release saying the strike would continue, ODCO acknowledged the "severe consequences that this delay brings to Ontario's economy."

"Stalled infrastructure developments impact all Ontarians," the release said.

The Epoch Times sought comment from Public Works and Government Services Canada but didn't hear back by publication time.

The Freedom Convoy protest against federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates that began in late January ended after the government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 to give the police additional powers to clear out the protesters and end the demonstration.

Cabinet had cited economic harm as justification for invoking the Emergencies Act to deal with the Freedom Convoy protesters.

While testifying at the special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency on June 14, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said “the core threat" of the protest was to the country's economy.

“Do you have the figures when it comes to giving us data on the economic impact of the blockade?” Senator Claude Carignan asked Freeland during the committee meeting.

“I have many figures in my head,” Freeland said. "I want to point out, as minister of finance, that every hour and every day of the occupation and blockades hurt our economy. ... The economic impact was absolutely clearly there.”

NDP MP Matthew Green also asked Freeland for the specifics about the damage to the economy and whether it can be quantified.

"The economic impact to the region of Ottawa was clear,” Freeland answered. “I have had many conversations with Canadian business leaders.”

“That’s not good enough,” Green said.

To date, cabinet has not detailed economic losses it deems were caused by the truckers' convoy protest, Blacklock's noted.