155,000 Canada public sector workers strike over federal contract negotiations News
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155,000 Canada public sector workers strike over federal contract negotiations

Over 155,000 Canadian public sector workers Wednesday went on strike as bargaining between the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) continues to stagnate, potentially impacting Canadians’ ability to access some government services. 

Contracts for two major PSAC groups, composed of Treasury Board and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees, expired in 2021. Since then, negotiations have stretched on as PSAC and the federal government remain far apart over bargaining points which include wage increases, remote work options and other issues affecting smaller bargaining groups. While both sides agree that wage increases are required, they differ on the size of those increases, with the union arguing that skyrocketing costs of living justify a larger raise which will set a benchmark for other union wages.

We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract for Canada’s Federal Public Service workers,” PSAC national president Chris Aylward stated. “Now more than ever, workers need fair wages, good working conditions and inclusive workplaces. And it’s clear the only way we’ll achieve that is by taking strike action to show the government that workers can’t wait.”  

While certain essential services, such as the Canada child care benefit program, will remain open, the strikes could impact citizen access to public services, including veteran support applications, delays in income tax and benefit returns processing, and passports.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in a statement Wednesday insisted that “the Government has done everything it can to reach a deal and avoid disrupting the services that Canadians rely on,” arguing that it presented a “fair, competitive offer” to PSAC which “responded to all their demands.” The federal government has framed its position as balancing the needs of workers with affordability, invoking the government’s ability to deliver services to Canadians.

Political opposition party leaders have been quick to seize on the union strike as a source of criticism for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh defending union workers’ bargaining position and Conservative Party members attacking both the disruption of public service and the governing Liberal Party’s general response to inflation and cost of living increases.