How the U.S. government shutdown is hurting Canadians


We’ve been hearing from clients and colleagues here at Provident about the headaches the government shutdown in the United States is causing, whether it’s Nexus issues or trouble travelling due to slowdowns at airports that have cascaded well beyond American borders.

Unfortunately, if Donald Trump’s unprecedented gamble to get congressional funding approval of his southern border wall drags on much longer, the delays at airports and border crossings for Canadian travellers, businesses and exporters will worsen.

Nexus applications are already on hold, and those who have applied for the card that gives them security pre-clearance into the United States will probably have to reapply once the shutdown ends.

Right now, American federal workers who are deemed essential, like air traffic controllers and customs agents, are working without pay. But that’s not expected to last, and border traffic — whether land or air — will feel the impact. That’s because even those essential workers are already starting to take work action, including calling in sick or co-ordinating work stoppages.

Food safety is another area of serious concern. Canada imports $25 billion a year in agriculture products from the U.S. every year. There are recalls even when food inspectors are getting paid, but the shutdown is expected to result in fewer inspections and laxer safety measures.

And how will Canada-U.S. relations be affected in a federal election year in Canada? The “new NAFTA,” officially called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), has yet to be ratified by a Congress now controlled by Democrats. Those Democrats are pre-occupied with other priorities at the moment, including the shutdown and internal squabbles about whether to start the impeachment process against Trump. Normalized Canada-U.S. relations seem a long way off, foreshadowing bad news for Canadian exporters and manufacturers.

And under NAFTA, each country uses the other’s import statistics to produce export data. Since the shutdown resulted in the shuttering of the United States Census Bureau, Statistics Canada isn’t receiving data about Canada's exports to the U.S. Sharing import data helps ensure accurate and coherent bilateral trade statistics, not to mention easing the administrative burden on Canadian businesses that export to the U.S.

Is the U.S. shutdown having a serious impact on you or your company? If so, let us know — Provident is ready to help, whether it’s coming up with a crisis management strategy, helping your executives create hard-hitting content that will be seen by U.S. audiences, or via comprehensive media training and monitoring.