More than 155,000 federal public servants could walk off the job as soon as Friday – potentially resulting in severe delays for Canadians accessing federal services.
On Wednesday, 120,000 Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members were in legal strike position as the union and federal government continue to try to reach a deal on a new collective agreement, PSAC national president Chris Aylward said.
On Friday, they will be joined by 35,000 Union of Taxation Employees members, who will be in a legal position to strike, as negotiations with the Canada Revenue Agency for a new deal continue.
The unions have been fighting for increased wages and remote work. Both sides are at the bargaining table and want to reach a deal, but Aylward has threatened “one of the largest strikes in Canadian history” if one is not reached.
Here’s how Canadians will be impacted if federal public servants go on strike:
As the May 1 deadline for Canadians to file their taxes nears, a disruption to CRA services due to a strike is expected.
In the event of a strike, the CRA said on its website that some services may be delayed or unavailable. Specifically, the CRA anticipates there may be delays in processing some income tax and benefit returns, particularly those filed by paper, and increased wait times in contact centres.
“Benefit payments would be prioritized. The Canada Child Benefit would continue during any labour disruption,” the CRA said.
The CRA will not extend the deadline to file taxes, the agency told Global News. On its website, the agency encourages Canadians to file their taxes “as soon as possible, not only this year but every year.”
Some Canadians wanting to travel will also face delays due to a strike.
The Canadian Transportation Agency, which is dealing with a massive backlog of air passenger complaints, said job action will likely result in delays to dispute resolution and information provision activities, such as answering phone calls.
Transport Canada, meanwhile, is warning of disruptions to services such as regulatory work and transportation security clearances. Employment and Social Development Canada and Service Canada says delays to passport services and grants and contributions programs will be expected.
However, the Canada Border Service Agency said it expects that CBSA services to travellers and businesses will be maintained in the event of a strike, but will update the public if services change.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, two agencies that have played a major role during the COVID-19 pandemic, have said they will maintain all essential services that “could affect the safety, security and health of Canadians and other clients.”
However, both agencies are warning of delays in processing requests or response times to phone and email enquiries.
Veterans Affairs Canada said any established or periodic payments made to veterans by the agency would continue uninterrupted.
But in the event of a strike, the department said it will have a “significantly reduced ability” to process new payments, and all benefit requests already in queue or received after a service disruption will be prioritized based on urgency or essential need.
Furthermore, job action could result in delays to career transition and case management services, as well as delays in appointments for in-person services.
In the event of a strike, Canadians should not expect any impact to regular police services, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
However, the Mounties are warning about some disruptions to its services, including administrative support, public access to buildings where RCMP are located and online updates.
“It should be noted however that essential services necessary for the safety and security of the public will continue as usual,” the RCMP said on its website.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) said on its website even though passport and citizenship services will continue to be offered, “delays are to be expected.”
Document authentication and some permits for import and export could take longer to process, GAC cautions. The foreign funding program may also see delays in making payments. However, it will be business as usual if you are seeking travel advice and advisories from the government.
For people who want to come to Canada, most immigration services would be disrupted — either partially or completely.
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is warning to expect delays in processing applications, in-person appointments, communication with IRCC, citizenship ceremonies and passport services.
But people should still be able to submit their online and mailed applications to IRCC and access their online accounts, as well as some emergency services, the agency says.
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