Tens of thousands of public sector workers in Canada could go on strike in the coming days, and that could have a major impact on people across the country.
Workers at the Canada Revenue Agency will be in a strike position as of Friday, April 14. Treasury board workers are in a strike position already, but no strike has been announced and it’s just a “strike mandate.”
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, representing the workers, told Daily Hive in an email that negotiations are continuing this week.
Who does PSAC represent?
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, one of Canada’s largest labour unions, represents more than 150,000 workers across the country, including those who helped process thousands of CERB applications during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They’re also cleaners and cooks on military bases, clerks and maintenance workers, tradespeople, Coast Guard search and rescue teams, teachers, firefighters and the people Canadians rely on to help process employment insurance, passport applications and immigration documents,” according to PSAC in an email to Daily Hive.
Last week, 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers represented by the Union of Taxation Employees and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) “voted overwhelmingly” in favour of strike action.
What kind of disruptions could we see?
While no strike notice has been issued, there are concerns about what could happen when or if that does happen. A statement to Daily Hive from PSAC suggests, “Canadians can expect to see nationwide disruptions to critical government services.”
If CRA workers strike, we could see a complete shutdown of tax season. (Taxes are due April 30, 2023, by the way.)
Passport applications, which have seen a backlog over the past couple of years, could also be impacted, along with immigration applications.
PSAC also expects a strike to cause interruptions to trade and supply across the country, saying “ports, harbours, trains, airports will all be impacted.”
And if you’re crossing the border? There could also be slowdowns if administration staff walk off the job.
Government response to potential strike
PSAC and the federal government say negotiations are continuing this week.
In a release, The Treasury Board of Canada states that it “values the important role its employees play in delivering services to Canadians and is committed to reaching collective agreements that are both fair to employees and reasonable for Canadian taxpayers.”
In a statement late last month, both parties agreed to mediated negotiations, and Ottawa says that over the past week, significant headway has been made, addressing many union demands.
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With files from Amir Ali