The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) announced a strike Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with its employer — the Government of Canada — on Tuesday night. Now Canadians are bracing for the fallout.
The strike by federal public workers involves staff of Service Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada. It involves a number of bargaining groups, including about 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers.
PSAC says more than 100,000 workers could walk off the job across Canada.
With about 155,000 non-essential workers on strike, this will affect everything from passport applications to tax return processing and immigration matters.
WATCH | PM comments after the negotiation deadline announcement:
It’s just days away from the tax deadline of April 30, and only a few months after the government reported clearing backlogs that have been plaguing the system during the pandemic.
How this affects Canadians
This week, the federal government released details on how a potential strike could affect services to Canadians, saying “certain services may be delayed or not delivered at all,” and that “the public may have trouble accessing some Government of Canada buildings where services are delivered.”
Here’s a summary of what may be disrupted:
- Passport processing, as Employment and Social Development Canada is warning that applications and other passport processing services may be partially or fully disrupted.
- Service Canada centres will be limited to clients in need of employment insurance, social insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and old age security.
- Global Affairs Canada says that the department will be limited to essential services in the event of a strike, but delays are expected.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada warns that people can expect delays with applications and appointments.
- Canada Revenue Agency warns there may be delays in processing income tax and benefit returns.
- Canadian Transportation Agency warns about delays to dispute resolutions and call-taking.
“We have not seen a strike of this size in Canada in a very long time,” said Barry Eidlin, an associate sociology professor at McGill University with an expertise in labour issues.
WATCH | Sociologist explains how PSAC strike may have long-term implications for Canadians:
He said he predicts a larger impact on Canadians if striking public servants gain any ground through this action.
“If [PSAC] is able to negotiate for wage increases that meet the cost of living … or flexibility over how and where and when they do their work, those kinds of things can have knock-on effects for other Canadians. It sets a standard that other employers will maybe feel compelled to match,” Eidlin said.