Canada’s Immigration Processing Capabilities Hit By Government Worker Strike

Canada’s Immigration Processing Capabilities Hit By Government Worker Strike
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The processing of applications by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) could be slowed by a strike by Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) workers that started Wednesday, April 19.

The PSAC represents about 159, 000 government workers and the strike may affect the IRCC’s ability to:

  • process applications;
  • get in-person appointments or attend events including citizenship ceremonies;
  • contact IRCC staff via email, phone or social media;
  • get consular citizenship and passport services, and;
  • obtain passport services in Canada.

Online And Settlement Services Are Still Being Offered During TStrike

The federal immigration department is, however, reassuring everyone that it is still possible to:

  • apply online;
  • mail applications to IRCC;
  • use online accounts, and;
  • access some emergency services.

Services provided by non-governmental organizations that are still available include:

  • settlement services from IRCC partner organizations;
  • healthcare through the Interim Federal Health Program, and;
  • visa application centres outside of Canada.

The government workers’ union had been in negotiations with the Treasury Board and Canada Revenue Agency but talks broke down and the union’s membership voted overwhelmingly to strike.

“We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract for Canada’s federal public service workers,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. 

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“Now more than ever, workers need fair wages, good working conditions and inclusive workplaces. And it’s clear the only way we’ll achieve that is by taking strike action to show the government that workers can’t wait.” 

Picket lines went up at more than 250 locations across the country Wednesday putting nearly a third of the entire federal public service workers on strike.

Union Warns Travellers To Expect Slowdowns At The Border As Staff Strike

Canadians were told ahead of the strike by the union to expect slowdowns or complete shutdowns of services nationwide, including a complete halt of the processing of tax returns; disruptions to employment insurance claims, immigration and passport applications as well as interruptions to supply chains and international trade at the country’s ports. There are also expected to be slowdowns at the border with administrative staff on strike. 


“As we begin this historic strike, PSAC bargaining teams will remain at the table night and day as they have been for weeks,” Aylward said. “We’re ready to reach a fair deal as soon as the government is ready to come to the table with a fair offer.” 

Negotiations between PSAC and Treasury Board began in June 2021 but reached an impasse in May 2022. 

The PSAC is Canada’s largest federal public service union, representing 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. 

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