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$5.2 Billion PSAC Settlement Cost Not Including Bonuses: Fortier

While the Liberal government has agreed to add about $5.2 billion to the pockets of its striking employees over the next four years, the president of the federal Treasury Board says this cost does not include the cost of a $2,500 bonus for each worker, which if added, will raise the settlement cost by another $300 million.

Testifying before the Senate national finance committee on May 3, Mona Fortier said the deal Ottawa has tentatively reached with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) does not include the expense that will come with a one-time pensionable payment of $2,500 to each of the 120,000 PSAC members who walked to the picket lines from April 19 to May 1.

Fortier was responding to Sen. Clément Gignac who asked if the cost of the four-year settlement, which Fortier said in a press conference on May 1 “is estimated at $1.3 billion a year,” will include the $2,500 lump sum payments.

“The answer is no. We will have to make an adjustment based on that lump sum amount,” she said, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter. “Once this is ratified, we’ll be able to modify or adjust that amount.”

“So it might be an additional two or $300 million in the first year if my math is correct,” Gignac commented.

Payment of $2,500 bonuses to 120,000 employees would total $300 million. On May 4, the last striking employees, comprising 35,000 members of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), reached a tentative deal with the Canada Revenue Agency with terms similar to that of PSCA with the Treasury Board. This means it will cost taxpayers another $87.5 million from the $2,500 payments.

‘No Studies’ on Work From Home

Under the new collective agreement, PSAC and UTE workers will be provided with 12.6 percent in compounded wage increases over the next four years, including the $2,500 payment that represents an additional 3.7 percent of salary for the average union member.

The Treasury Board did not elaborate on other union requests such as shift premiums for working past 4 p.m., but it did agree to maintain a current policy of allowing employees to work from home up to three days per week. The PSAC is pushing for telework agreements to be enshrined in the collective agreement.

Sen. Larry Smith asked if there is any data on the number of people within the PSAC working from home versus in the office.

“We don’t necessarily have all the numbers from all the departments,” Fortier replied. “We are starting to gather some intelligence and data gathering, but it is the department’s prerogative on how they will assess and how they will also determine the up to three days for their delivery.”

On May 2, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux told the Senate committee that the federal government doesn’t know how many employees are working remotely from home.

“We have not sent a formal request for information but we put the question informally to the Treasury Board and several departments,” said Giroux.

“There are a few departments [that] have also indicated that no studies had been undertaken regarding whether public servants were more or less productive when they worked in person or remotely.”


Sen. Tony Loffreda asked Fortier if there was “any proper work” being done by her department to properly assess the efficiency of government services pre- and post-COVID-19 pandemic, given the number of full-time employees had increased over the past three years and that working from home “is the new reality.”

“In light of these two major shifts, how can we evaluate the improvements in terms of service delivery to Canadians?” he asked. “Are we improving outcomes? And how are you measuring [outcomes]?

“I think we need to make sure that we balance and we look at all of those data points that we’re gathering on productivity,” Fortier replied.

Marnie Cathcart and Matthew Horwood contributed to this report.

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