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Here’s what happens to government services if federal public servants go on strike

The union representing the largest number of federal public servants announced a countrywide strike mandate on Wednesday.
Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) demonstrate outside the Treasury Board building in Ottawa on Friday, March 31, 2023. On Wednesday the union representing the largest number of federal public servants announced a nation-wide strike mandate after final votes were cast on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

The union representing the largest number of federal public servants announced a countrywide strike mandate on Wednesday.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says workers are ready to strike at any time, and whether they do is dependent on how bargaining with the Liberal government goes in the coming days.

In the event of a strike, many federal services from taxes to passport renewals could be affected — with departments and agencies now signalling which essential services will continue during a strike, and which may be disrupted.

Here’s the lay of the land.

Canada Revenue Agency: The agency announced its own strike mandate last Friday. In the event of a strike, benefit payments would be prioritized and the Canadian Child Benefit would continue. The CRA is encouraging people to file their taxes online due to delays in processing some income tax and benefit returns, particularly those filed by paper. There may be longer wait times at contact centres.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard: Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s conservation and protection program, health and safety-related fishery closures along with the Canadian Coast Guard’s search and rescue, environmental response and icebreaking services will still be running but may be operating at reduced administrative capacity.

Some services that may be partially or fully disrupted include Canadian Coast Guard lighthouses, wrecked vessels, and licensing and funding programs by Fisheries and Oceans.

Canadian Transportation Agency: The agency says it will ensure that the national transportation system will continue to run. There may be some delays to things like dispute resolution and information provision.

Employment and Social Development Canada: Essential services such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, employment insurance and social insurance numbers will be maintained. However, there could be processing delays and longer wait times.

The delivery of passports would be limited to clients experiencing humanitarian or emergency situations. There would also be partial processing delays to the Temporary Foreign Worker program, the Canada Education Savings Bond, the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond.

Global Affairs Canada: The department says it will maintain essential services such as travel advisories, the EduCanada program and international scholarships program.

Services at missions abroad, document authentication services, import and export permits, the CanExport program and international assistance programming may be partially or fully impacted.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Expect delays for most services, including processing applications, in-person appointments and citizenship ceremonies, passport services and contacting the department.

Services offered by outside organizations would still be available, and online applications, accounts and emergency services will be maintained.

Library and Archives Canada: Service points in Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Halifax along with services for the Government of Canada, galleries, libraries, archives and museums will be maintained.

There could be delays to ordering archival and published material, requesting copies, making access-to-information requests, making licensing or copyright requests and for services to publishers.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Regular police services would continue across the country, but services such as administrative support, media relations, web updates and access to RCMP buildings may be disrupted.

Transport Canada: Essential services would be maintained but services such as public outreach, regulatory work, aircraft services, issuance of licenses, certificates and registrations, transportation security clearances and other motor vehicle safety hotlines could be partially or fully disrupted.

Veteran Affairs Canada: In the event of a strike, periodic payments to veterans would continue uninterrupted. That includes disability benefits, income replacement benefits and additional compensation for pain and suffering.

However, the department anticipates a reduced ability to process new payments. New benefit requests or those that are already in the queue will be prioritized on a needs basis.

—Cindy Tran, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Members of public service union vote in favour of federal strike mandate