Canada’s top central banker said the trucker protests currently blocking some Canada-U.S. border entry points could impact economic growth if they continue for an extended period of time.

“We've already got a strained global supply chain, we don't need this,” Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada, said during a media availability on Wednesday. 

“For the economy more broadly, really, the issue is if there were to be prolonged blockages and key entry points into Canada, that could start to have a measurable impact on economic activity in Canada.”

After three days of protests on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Ont. to Detroit, Canada-bound traffic remained halted Wednesday while trucks heading to the U.S. are moving slowly in one open lane of traffic. As a result of the bridge protest in Windsor, another border crossing in Sarnia, Ont. has experienced hours-long delays.

The Ambassador Bridge blockade followed an occupation of protesters against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions that started in downtown Ottawa last week. 

The border crossing in Coutts, Alta. has also been blocked for over a week, although Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they had a plan to reopen traffic Wednesday afternoon. 

The blockades add more setbacks for companies already dealing with supply chain bottlenecks and logistics delays. 

“So far, the [blockages] haven't lasted very long. But if they were to last longer, that would become a bigger concern,” Macklem said.  “Most truckers are trying to get goods in and out of Canada. I do hope these blockages can end quickly.”

The Ambassador Bridge is the most important land transport route between Canada and the U.S. – representing about a quarter of trade between the two countries.

Macklem said the Bank of Canada’s Ottawa office has made arrangements for most employees to continue working from home and that only essential employees are heading into the building. 

He said the protests have been “very distressing” for some Bank of Canada employees and accessing the building has been difficult, but given the bank’s multiple locations across Canada, its operations have continued largely as usual.