Canadian Freightways closes four locations

Truck News

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — In a move that came as surprise to employees, Canadian Freightways shut down four of its British Columbia terminals.

Operations were halted at the company’s Prince George, Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert locations on January 17. Prince Rupert had been operated by an independent owner/operator on behalf of Canadian Freightways.

According to Heather Lee, vice-president, combined units for the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 378, who had members employed at the Prince George terminal, the closures came swiftly.

“On Friday afternoon the union business rep that provides services to members at that company got a call from HR and was told that a notice of closure was coming. Within half an hour, they were served with the notice of closure for Prince George,” she said.

She added that receiving the closure notice left her “quite disappointed. Companies operate on long-term business plans. I don’t think they made a decision in half-an-hour to close down.”

According to Ken Enns, senior vice-president at Canadian Freightways, there was one key reason behind the decision to close the terminals. He told Truck News that it was “strictly a financial decision to change the operating structure.”

Enns added that Canadian Freightways’ customers in those areas would continue to receive service due to a new business partnership with Richmond, B.C.-based Bandstra Transportation Systems Ltd.

“[There will be] no changes in the service matrix. In fact, this will improve the service provide overnight service to Smithers ex Edmonton and Vancouver.”

In total, 30 employees were affected by the closure. The vast majority worked in the Prince George terminal.

According to Enns, at its now-closed locations, Canadian Freightways employed workers who were part of two unions, COPE and the Teamsters and “the company opted to pay working notice to the employees as per the collective agreement.”

He added that the company had a four-year agreement in place with the Teamsters (originally signed in 2013), and was entering contract negotiations with COPE.

Lee explained that transportation workers fall under the auspices of federal labour laws and not the province’s labour code, and because of that, “provisions for workers are quite minimal.” She said under federal rules, there was no mandate for the company to consult with the unions before ceasing operations.

“We’re doing what we can. We’re having conversations with the members to find out what the impacts are for them and to examine what we can do to help them,” she said.

While Enns couldn’t say whether there were more closures on the table, he did say “we will continue to review the market and our operating structure to ensure we remain competitive and profitable.

“We have made some positive changes to address our operating costs and improve service. Canadian Freightways will continue to aggressively sell our North American coverage and technological advancements to our customers.”

One of the major changes at the company happened at the executive level. Former president Ralph Wettstein retired in December 2013. Enns is currently in charge of operations.

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  • this was once the best ltl company in prince George. transforce has cut service to the point that cfl was only a low price and poor service company. sad to see.

  • No one, least of all the CF people in Prince George, should be surprised by this happening. From my conversations with friends at Porter, Byers, and other co’s taken over by Trans Force, the standard procedure is to gut and slash these companies, and this is true to form. I have heard, in my 30 plus years in the business, that CF is a bit of a “retirement home” type of job, so who is shocked here? Not judging, just saying. I,m also waiting for the day, should it ever come, that the so called “trade press” takes a serious, hard look at Trans Force, and turns over a few rocks, instead of acting like a tween at a Justin Bieber show. Are these industry functionaries, likes flies on the pile of dung that is most of trucking these days, afraid of the Quebec-based perpetual acquisition machine? It would seem to me that there is a story there, but maybe a little fear of rocking the boat.

  • We work in and extremely competative industry and unfortunately workers that have gained good wages will have their legs cut out from under them from time to time. Adjustments need to be made by the carrier when competition demands that action must be taken. I believe this is what happened here.

  • Terrace was run with an independant Leaser as well. The service was poor and snarly and deserves exactly this fate. A far cry from back when they ruled the roost.

    Sad really, with the LNG developments, the amount of local freight is booming.

  • TransForce has taken this same tack a lot recently. The pretty much ruin every company they buy, and for no apparent reason. their little soiree into oilfield work ended horribly. They seemed to be trying to apply the same logic to oilfield work as they do to trailer load over highway freight. Heck’s used to be a significant player in oilfield hauling. TransForce bought them and completely messed it up.

    On the upside, many smaller companies swooped in to fill the void after TransForce destroyed Heck’s.

  • Not mentioned is that CF had closed Lloydminster at the beginning of January and on Jan 24 they have closed their Fort St.John service centre also moving their freight from their agent in Dawson Creek, Chetwynd and Fort Nelson.

    A once proud company is being reduced to rubble.

  • They want max profits and pay as little as possible using lease trucks and agents,on a commission setup.It was a class outfit at one time,top notch eguipment new or old all in good condition, well maintained,and few accidents and good employees.To bad

  • Such a poor decision. When Darshan Kailly ran CFL he kept the company alive following the bankruptcy of it’s parent company Consolidated Freightways in the USA. Through the Bankruptcy, deregulation of the industry, high fuel costs, CFL provided net profit to TransForce. Yes Employees were paid wages and benefits that were industry leaders but they were staffed with long service, dedicated employees who by comparison handled more work per person than any of their competitors. This company, CFL, has more 30 and 40 year service employees than any competitor, those are skills that cannot be replicated by subcontractors with no vested interest. What we are seeing here is a true display of mismanagement that I believe will be the downfall of CFL a company I have been involved with since 1970.

  • You know, its funny. CFL has been telling the teamsters and COPE for years that there needs to be wage concessions etc in order to remain competitive. Instead, COPE and the Teamsters decide to fight for more money and waste an extraordinary amount of the companies time to do so. I can think of at least 3 long haul drivers that would run to Prince George, every single one of them Teamster and every single one of them would absolutely abuse the collective agreement in an effort to milk the system. You all got exactly what you asked for, the next time you want to piss and moan over little things when people are trying to save a company perhaps you will remember this moment.

    Not happy? call your business agent, they are the asses responsible for this. GREED GREED GREED

  • The pride is gone from this once proud company. It is a shame but the good leaders are gone and have not been replaced. We can only thank TransForce for this and there Attila the Hun approach.

  • I worked for Canadian Freightways in Vic after it purchased Capital freightways. I could see the direction this company was heading and after 9 years of great employment things went downhill rapidly.I chose to move on after being layed off for weeks at a time.Micro management,not taking care of the small things.

  • I worked for Canadian Freightways for 35 years with some of the best leaders in the business but when Trance Force bought out Canadian Freightways and all the leaders retired including myself the business started going downhill. It was one of the best companies ever to work for but it seems the leadership they have now and the direction they got from trans force has put them in a downhill slide to extinction.

    • Company has turned into the laughing stock of the industry with the current management running it into the ground. Employees don’t matter. It’s all about the all mighty dollar and keeping Transforce executives and shareholders wealthy.

  • Cf Victoria will close March 11th leaving just 2 terminals left in bc. I’ve worked with cf for 12 years as a driver and watched upper management and tforce distroy a once mighty empire. Sad to see…