Canada's Federal Government Strike and Its Impact On Your Cargo

CANADA - Over 155,000 public sector workers are on strike, effectively shutting down approximately 30 different government departments in Canada.

For shippers, this includes the Treasury Department, which in turn includes Revenue Canada, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the related agencies that conduct secondary reviews of customs entries. The last time this happened in Canada in 2004, workers were legislated back to work to end the strike. Even if that process is started, opposition members of Parliament have vowed to slow that process in the legislature, so it could take 3 or 4 days before any government action is actually put in place to declare the strike illegal and force the unions back to work.
How does this affect your cargo?

  • Expect major delays at border crossings
  • Expect major delays for clearances at airports and ports
  • No processing of temporary imports or non-resident import applications 

Please be prepared to pay detention at the Border on FTLs or large LTLs and to possibly pay storage at Airport terminals and/or Ports as the terminal operators have no inclination of waiving fees due to the strike. Please contact your BTX representative if you have any questions and follow us on social media for the latest updates on this issue. 

Read article from CBS News below for additional details (or click here): 

Thousands of federal government workers hit the picket lines in New Brunswick on Wednesday morning after the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) failed to reach a deal before a Tuesday night deadline.

About 400 workers were out at the pay centre in Shediac, said Mike LeBlanc, regional vice-president for Government Services Canada, which is part of the Public Service Alliance. 

He said spirits were high among picketers, and the reception from public passersby was positive. 

"Lots of honking horns, people all nice and smiling, a lot of waving and so far so good," said LeBlanc.

About 155,000 federal public servants went on strike at midnight. Wages are at the heart of the dispute, but so too, is remote working, said LeBlanc. 

"We don't have telework language, and remote work and working from home is not in our collective agreement. So that's also one of the big points right now," he said. 

LeBlanc was hopeful the strike wouldn't last long. 

"Hopefully today, that's it. But the ball's in the Liberal government court," he said by phone from the picket line Wednesday morning. 

He said he spoke to a couple of people from the bargaining team on Tuesday night and they said the two sides are "so far [apart] on certain points but they're close on others."

"So you know I'm confident that we're really close to get a deal …. because we don't want to be on the picket line. We want to be at work," said LeBlanc.

PSAC national president Chris Aylward announced at a Tuesday evening news conference the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday — setting the stage for one of the largest strikes in Canada's history, according to the union's website. 

It represents "nearly 230,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada, including more than 120,000 federal public service workers employed by Treasury Board, and more than 35,000 employed by the Canada Revenue Agency."

The website said about a third of those workers are now on strike. 

As a result, "Canadians can expect to see slowdowns or a complete shutdown of services nationwide beginning [Wednesday], including a complete halt of the tax season," disruptions to employment insurance, immigration and passport applications, interruptions to supply chains and international trade at ports and slowdowns at the border.

Negotiations between PSAC and Treasury Board began in June 2021, but reached an impasse in May 2022. The strike announcement came after two bargaining groups representing a significant part of the government workforce entered a legal strike position last week.

"We are still a ways apart, but we're staying at the table because we're still hopeful and our goal is still to get to a tentative agreement," said Aylward Tuesday evening. 

"Our members are prepared to fight for a good, decent, fair collective agreement."

In a news release Tuesday night, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said it has "done everything it can" to reach a deal.

"The government has presented a fair, competitive offer to the PSAC and responded to all their demands," it said.

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