Quebec Premier Francois Legault says a strike at Canadian National Railway Co. has left the province with fewer than five days before it runs out of propane, which would wreak havoc at hospitals, nursing homes and farms.

He says Quebec has already started to ration propane use, narrowing it to less than half the typical six million litres per day. The province has about 12 million litres in reserve.

Legault says priority has been given to health centres and retirement residences that rely on propane heating as well as farms that use it to dry grain and heat barns.

The premier expressed hope for a settlement between CN Rail and the 3,200 striking workers, but called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the opposition parties to pass emergency back-to-work legislation if necessary ahead of Parliament’s scheduled return on Dec. 5.

Canadian Propane Association CEO Nathalie St-Pierre tells The Canadian Press that six-hour truck lines for propane have already formed in Sarnia, Ont..

She says about 85 per cent of Quebec’s propane comes via rail, the bulk of it from Sarnia and some from Edmonton — the country’s two propane trading hubs.

Conductors, trainpersons and yard workers took to the picket lines Tuesday, halting freight trains across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 21, 2019.

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The Canadian Press