Canada’s largest federal public-service union is now on strike

Chris Aylward of PSAC

Canada’s largest federal public-service union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), has announced that approximately 155,000 workers went on strike across the country after talks with the government failed to produce an agreement before last Tuesday night deadline. The strike action began on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT and has been described as one of the largest strikes in Canadian history, with picket lines being set up at over 250 locations.

The strike includes approximately 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency workers and nearly a third of all federal public servants. Disruptions are likely to affect a number of federal services, including the tax season, border slowdowns, and disruptions to employment insurance, immigration, and passport applications.

Negotiations over the new contract first began in June 2021, and the union has pushed for annual raises of 4.5 percent over the next three years, arguing that the increases are necessary to keep pace with inflation and the cost of living. The bargaining teams will remain at the table throughout the strike, with the PSAC hoping to reach a tentative agreement with the government.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat stated that the government has done everything it could to get a deal, but the demands put forth by the PSAC bargaining team are unaffordable and would severely affect the government’s ability to deliver services to Canadians. The PSAC has also kept issues such as greater limits on contract work, more anti-racism training, and provisions for remote work on the bargaining table.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh issued a statement in solidarity with the union, stating that his party stands with PSAC members who have been voicing their legitimate demands for fair wages, job security, and a safe working environment.

The approximate salary ranges for a public service worker in a common position range for an Administrative Assistant: $36,000 – $61,000 per year, IT Specialist: $56,000 – $96,000 per year, Economist: $75,000 – $121,000 per year, Human Resources Manager: $85,000 – $140,000 per year, Financial Analyst: $60,000 – $100,000 per year. According to the Government of Canada’s Treasury Board Secretariat, the average salary for all public service workers in Canada was $81,994 in 2020-2021. However, it’s important to note that this figure is just an average and may not be representative of the salaries earned by individual workers in different job classifications and at different levels of experience. The actual salary for a particular public service worker can vary widely depending on their job title, level of experience, location, and other factors.

The government has offered an increase of 9%, which represents an increase of $1.1 billion. If the Canadian public service workers’ salary increases by 13%, the new average salary would be approximately $94,293. This is because a 15% increase on the previous average of $81,994 would add $11,440 to the average salary, resulting in a new average salary of approximately $100,804. An increase of 12% will be $1,716,000, or an additional $610,500,000 of taxpayers’ money.