Treasury Board president to discuss tentative deal at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says it has reached a tentative contract agreement with the Treasury Board covering more than 120,000 federal government workers across the country.

The national strike is now over for most workers who fall under the Treasury Board. They’ll be required to return to work Monday at 9 a.m. ET or their next scheduled shift, the union said in a statement early Monday.

PSAC said strike action continues for 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers nationwide, with contract negotiations ongoing. Telework, wages and job security are some of the key issues still at play, PSAC said.

The national strike for more than 155,000 federal public servants under the PSAC began at 12:01 a.m. April 19.

Two groups covered by the union have been on strike: a group of approximately 120,000 employees under the Treasury Board spread across several government departments and agencies, and a smaller group of more than 35,000 workers at the CRA.

About 110,000 to 120,000 PSAC members were eligible to walk off the job after factoring out staff doing work designated as essential, such as employment insurance or pensions.

A red and yellow union flag flies in front of a picket line.
A union flag flies as Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members walk the picket line outside government buildings on April 21, 2023 in Gatineau, Que. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Over the course of the strike, picket lines formed across the country while some government services — including taxes, passports and immigration — were disrupted.

Some buildings at CFB Petawawa temporarily lost heat and hot water after the base’s Central Heating Plant shut down.

Agreement details

In a statement on its website, PSAC said the tentative agreement includes wage increases of 12.6 per cent compounded over four years, and a one-time, pensionable lump sum payment of $2,500.

It includes language on remote work that gives members “additional protection” from “arbitrary decisions,” and it requires managers to assess requests individually instead of by group, and give responses in writing to allow members and PSAC to “hold the employer accountable to equitable and fair decision-making,” PSAC said.

As for seniority rights in the event of layoffs, the union and the government will submit a joint proposal to the Public Service Commission of Canada about including seniority rights in the workforce adjustment process, PSAC said.

Online ratification votes will be held shortly after a full explanation and copy of the agreement are provided in the coming days, PSAC said.

Later Monday morning, Treasury Board issued a statement confirming the tentative deal, which includes provisions on leave with pay for family-related responsibilities, and new paid leave for Indigenous employees to participate in traditional practices.

Outside of collective agreements, the two sides agreed to a review of the directive on telework, and departmental panels will be created to advise deputy heads about employee concerns, Treasury Board said.

“In the end, we reached fair, competitive agreements for employees that are reasonable for Canadians,” the statement attributed to Treasury Board president Mona Fortier reads.

What led to the strike?

Contracts for both groups expired in 2021. Negotiations between the federal government and PSAC’s two groups began that year, but the union declared in 2022 it had reached an impasse.

PSAC had previously asked for a 4.5 per cent raise each year for 2021, 2022 and 2023. It said April 24 it had lowered its ask but didn’t elaborate on its demand.

The most recent public offer from the government to each group was a nine per cent raise over three years, a total that matched recommendations of the third-party Public Interest Commission.

Remote work arrangements, priority for senior staff in the event of downsizing and a ban on contracting out work were the other three priority issues identified in an open letter published by the Treasury Board on April 24.