LATEST UPDATE AS OF 10:53 A.M. Eastern
- The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says its members will strike on Wednesday if no deal is reached with the federal government by 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.
- Canadians could face serious delays in accessing federal services if strikes were to happen, most notably in the tax department but also with EI benefits, passport applications, and imports/exports. For more on what we know so far, read the coverage here.
A looming strike by Canada Revenue Agency workers over an ongoing labour dispute “poses a threat to small businesses,” an independent group has warned, calling for an extension of the tax deadline.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in a statement Monday urged the agency and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)-Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), which represents more than 35,000 CRA workers, to quickly reach an agreement.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president in the statement, arguing that a potential strike could create uncertainty for small businesses in the middle of tax season.
Canadians have until May 1 to file their income tax and benefit returns. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has said it has no plans to delay that deadline even if workers walk off the job.
In the event of a strike, the agency has warned some services may be affected, with delays in processing some income tax and benefit returns, particularly those filed by paper.
That’s a concern for the CFIB, Kelly said.
“With certain CRA services being delayed or unavailable during a labour disruption, we worry that many small businesses may not be able to get answers in a timely manner or to submit their tax payment on time,” Kelly said.
The CRA told Global News last week that a “potential strike in no way impedes the ability of Canadians to file their taxes electronically or on paper.”
As of Friday, more than 35,000 agency workers were in a legal position to strike.
That’s in addition to the 122,000 other Public Service Alliance of Canada federal workers who entered a strike position as of April 12. PSAC said on Monday its workers will go on strike as of Wednesday if no deal is reached by 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.
The federal government and the unions are in disagreement over wages, remote work and contracts.
“If CRA workers, in addition to more than 120,000 other federal public servants, go on strike, the impact on small businesses could be massive,” Kelly said.
“We’re looking to both sides to come to a quick resolution at a cost taxpayers can afford.”
The unions’ demand of a 33 per cent pay raise over three years for CRA employees could cost Canadians close to $1 billion in taxes, CFIB estimates.
“The proposed wage increase would also be extremely costly to Canadians and add to their already heavy tax burden,” Kelly said.
Among its list of demands, CFIB is asking the CRA to maintain full service to small businesses, ensure clear communication of small business owners’ responsibilities in the context of a strike, and consider back-to-work legislation if negotiations fail.
A final round of negotiations this week between PSAC and CRA is set to kick off Monday.
CFIB, which has more than 97,000 members, is Canada’s biggest association of small and medium-sized businesses.