“Federals” ready to strike from Wednesday

TORONTO – Ultimatum from PSAC to the federal government: if an agreement is not reached by 9 pm tomorrow, the strike will start on Wednesday. A strike that will affect more than 155,000 federal employees who are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), including 35,000 workers of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 

Contract negotiations between the union and the Treasury Board continued over the weekend in what the union described as the government’s last chance to reach an agreement. Chris Aylward, national president of the union, said this morning – in a press conference – that some progress has been made, but not enough to cancel the strike. And he added that CRA workers have also returned to the negotiating table after announcing their separate strike mandate on April 7: unless they reach their agreement by tomorrow night, they too will strike.

“Despite some progress at the negotiating table, our members are frustrated that as negotiations drag on, they continue to fall behind,” Aylward said. “We have been at the table for almost two years now and these workers can no longer wait”.

The most sticking point in the talks appears to be pay, with the union calling for increases to keep pace with rising cost of living and inflation. The government has offered an average wage increase of around 2% each year over a five-year period, while the union has pushed for annual increases of 4.5% for the next three years. The union also wants to put on the table tighter limits on contract work, more anti-racist training and provisions for remote working.

If the union goes on strike on Wednesday, many federal services, from tax processing to passport renewals, could be affected, with departments and agencies signaling which essential services will continue during a strike and which may be disrupted (as we write in the article below).

“We want to make an impact on government. We will try to have as little impact on Canadians as possible” Aylward said, adding that if they go on strike, federal civil servants will “picket” at strategic locations across the country.

The (PSAC) announced on last Wednesday that its members (more than 120,000) voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of a strike if no agreement is reached with the federal government, as did 35,000 the previous week Canada Revenue Agency employees. If the big five bargaining groups go on strike, many federal services will suffer. And they will be days of great inconvenience for all Canadians grappling with the most varied bureaucratic procedures.

Strike, here are the services at risk

CRA The Canada Revenue Agency says that if PSAC – Union of Taxation Employees – members go on strike, “certain services may be affected”, and there could be delays in processing tax returns (especially those submitted in paper form) and time longer waiting times in call centres. The CRA says benefit payments would be prioritized and Canada Child Benefit would continue during any work stoppage. Canadians are still encouraged to file their tax returns as soon as possible.

RCMP The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will continue to offer regular police services throughout the country even during a possible strike. However, services such as administrative support, media relations, web updates, and public access to buildings where the RCMP is located may be disrupted. However, essential services needed for the safety and security of the public will continue as usual.

Canada Border Services Agency CBSA services for travelers and businesses will be maintained.

Canadian Coast Guard Search and rescue, environmental response, and icebreaking services of the Coast Guard will be maintained. However, the services relating to the lighthouses and the program of destroyed, abandoned and dangerous ships could undergo variations. Fisheries and Oceans Canada said indigenous funding programs, licensing, small artisanal ports and fisheries management decisions could be partially or completely disrupted.

Employment and Social Development Canada and Service Canada Essential services will be maintained even in the event of a strike, including Canada’s Retirement Plan, Retirement Insurance, Employment Insurance and Social Security numbers. However, there may be delays in processing and increased wait times in call centres. The offices will remain open, however opening days and hours may vary. The services of the Temporary Foreign Worker Programme, the Canada Education Savings Bond and the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond may be partially or completely interrupted during a strike.

Passports Passport-related services may be partially or completely disrupted in the event of a strike by PSAC members.

Transport Canada Essential services will be maintained but there may be impacts, such as delays in accessing service points. Canadian Transportation Agency In the event of a strike, staff will continue with all regulatory activities, including the issuance of airline licenses and airline, rail and marine determinations. Services that may be partially or totally discontinued include dispute resolution activities and the provision of information via telephone calls and emails.

Global Affairs Canada All essential services that could affect the “safety, security and health of Canadians and other customers” will be maintained. The department will continue to provide travel advice and strike alerts, along with consular services through the Consular Operations Team and the Emergency Watch and Response Center in Ottawa. Consular services, including citizenship and passport services, will continue to be offered to Canadians through the Global Affairs Canada mission network. However, there may be delays. Canadians will still be able to access their passport and applications for proof of citizenship and any documentation.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada All essential services that could affect the safety, security and health of Canadians and other customers will be maintained in the event of a strike. Non-essential services may be affected by business disruptions, so delays in processing requests or response times to phone and email inquiries are possible.

Library and Archives Canada Some services may be affected in the event of a strike. Service outlets in Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Halifax are expected to remain open. However, Library and Archives Canada warns that there may be disruptions in services. Agriculture and

Agri-Food Canada In the event of a strike, some programs and services may be affected.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada In the event of a strike, some services will still be available (apply online, use online accounts and access some emergency services), however IRCC warns that its services will be affected and there could be delays for : Processing applications, in-person appointments or events, including citizenship ceremonies; contact IRCC by email, telephone or social media; consular citizenship and passport services.

Indigenous Services Canada Some services may be affected by a strike.

Veterans Affairs Canada Current customers will continue to receive their monthly payments for disability benefits, income replacement benefits, and additional compensation for pain and suffering. In the event of a strike, though, there will be significantly reduced capacity to process new benefits. Any benefit requests already in queue will be prioritized based on urgency.

The pic above is from PSAC network