BC Lions, CFL scrambling as players take strike action just weeks ahead of season opener

By Sportsnet and Claire Fenton

With the 2022 CFL season just weeks away, seven of the leagues nine teams are missing vital practice time due to a players’ strike.

The strike currently affects the BC Lions, Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The only teams still on the field are the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Elks, as their players won’t be in a legal strike position until later this week, as per Alberta’s labour laws. It is widely expected those teams are going to announce practices will be cancelled at that time unless an agreement can be reached.

However, there are no new talks scheduled between the league and the CFLPA, after bargaining fell apart over the weekend, and the current collective agreement expired.

CFL league Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement to fans Saturday that the league was prepared to increase the salary cap by $18.9 million, and increase the minimum salary to $70,000 in 2023 and $75,000 in 2027.

Clubs would be permitted to re-sign their veterans to partially guaranteed contracts, a first for the CFL, Ambrosie said, in what he called a win-win offer.

In a memo to players, the union said that the league was trying to undermine the CFLPA bargaining committee.

“You have or will receive an email from your Club outlining the League’s spin on the breakdown of bargaining,” the memo read. “We had tabled a counter offer to the League’s ‘take it or leave it offer’ this afternoon. Instead of using the time to consider our counter proposals the league, instead, took the time to craft the communication you just received,” the union said. 

This is only the second CFL strike in the leagues history. The only other time was in 1974, but the labour situation was resolved before the start of the season that year.

The CFL pre-season is set to start May 23, and the regular season is will begin June 9. The BC Lions home opener is still scheduled for June 11 versus the Edmonton Elks.

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