By Moustafa Daly
Calling for better wages and workplace inclusivity, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the second-largest public sector union representing 155,000 federal employees, has announced a nationwide strike starting today, April 19, 2023.
The strike, which involves nearly one-third of all federal employees in the country, is set to have a significant impact on availability and access to government services including those offered by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“The impact on processing is immediate and across the board in every category of immigration services, but we could be back on track very fast if the negotiations come to a conclusion fast,” says Julien Tétrault, president of Quebec-based JTH Lawyers Inc. to Uglobal.
The impact of Canada’s strike on immigration services
It’s predicted the strike will fully or partially disrupt immigration services in Canada. Delays are expected across the board, particularly when it comes to processing applications, in-person appointments, email or phone inquiries to the IRCC, consular and passport services.
Among the affected services will be immigration and asylum requests and issuance of permits for foreign workers.
Is there an end in sight for Canada’s strike?
“This is the biggest strike in 30 years: it attracts so much publicity from all political parties so I am rather confident that the matter would be solved soon,” predicts Tétrault.
“Let's keep in mind that Immigration Canada had an amazing year in 2022 with a record-high number of PR visas issued, the immigration targets were raised for the next 3 years to come, so we have good reasons to believe this pause in processing is temporary and may not have long term side effects,” explains Tétrault.
On the other hand, Antonin Favreau, attorney at Montreal-based Favreau Law Firm, is wary a quick solution could prove to be elusive.
“Although we are hopeful for a prompt resolution, it's important to note that negotiations can be complex, despite the federal government's financial resources,” explains Favreau.
“As an advisor, my recommendation is to tell my clients to remain patient and have confidence in the process,” he adds.
Reason for the strike in Canada
PSAC is demanding the government increases wages, reduces layoffs, creates more jobs and achieves a work-life balance for the country’s federal employees. The union has been in talks with the government to discuss the demands, requesting a 4.5% annual raise for its members over the next three years. The Canadian government ended up offering a 9% wage over the next three years (3% annually) hike earlier this week to avoid the strike – however PSAC went ahead and issued its 72-hour strike notice on April 16, 2023.
Among the contentious issues is the demand that PSAC members continue to work remotely, announcing that 90% of its members would elect to continue working remotely given the option.
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