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As one of the largest strikes in Canadian history hits day six, Canadians and businesses who need access to federal services continue to find themselves faced with disruptions with no idea when the thousands of public servants who walked off the job will resume their duties.
The strike, declared by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) on April 19, has had more than 155,000 federal public servants reporting to the picket line to date, affecting everything from passport processing to claims, tax returns, and the agriculture sector. Here’s a list of some of the areas of impact faced by Canadians thus far.
In an interview with Global News’ ‘The West Block’ program on April 23, Karina Gould, minister of families, children, and social development, urged Canadians not to apply for a new passport or renew an old one.
“My best advice to Canadians is not to make that application right now because it just simply won’t be processed,” Gould told host Eric Sorensen.
The minister said on a typical normal day, about 20,000 to 25,000 passport applications are received across the country. When the strike kicked off last Wednesday, processing hit rock bottom.
“For the first day of the strike, Passport Canada was only able to process 500 applications because those were 500 that were considered to be urgent or essential,” she said.
According to Gould, “essential” applications include those who are travelling for work, seeking medical services abroad and for compassionate grounds.
Though services for Old Age Security, Social Insurance Numbers, Employment Insurance, and the Canada Pension Plan are deemed as essential, the 338 Service Canada centres located nationwide, including the call centres, will operate in a “reduced capacity,” the minister said in the interview.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has no plans to postpone its tax deadlines even though over 39,000 of its employees have joined the strike.
“There are no plans to extend the T1 tax filing deadlines, as a potential strike in no way impedes the ability of Canadians to file their taxes electronically or on paper,” CRA spokesperson Adam Blondin told The Epoch Times via email on April 19.
“Canadians should take steps to ensure their return is filed by May 1, 2023, along with payment for any balance owing.”
The agency did not immediately respond at the time to whether the current deadline for T2 tax filing, which applies to incorporated businesses, will be extended beyond June 15 for business owners.
The typical processing time for electronic filing takes about two weeks whereas paper filing takes eight weeks. With the strike set to continue, it will impact more taxpayers as many CRA services are “expected to be delayed or unavailable,” particularly those filed by paper.
The strike has also affected grain inspections, which would potentially harm the profits and exports of Canadian farmers.
In an email statement to The Epoch Times on April 24, the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) said about 65 percent of its staff are currently on strike, including over 140 grain inspectors.
“[P]rovision of official inspection and certification of grain exports is significantly impacted,” wrote Rémi Gosselin, manager of corporate information services for CGC.
Contingency plans were being put in place to ensure that managers and others not on strike can maintain inspections essential to keep market access, he added.
In a news release on April 19, the Calgary-based Wheat Growers Association said farmers are counting on shipping out the last of their 2022 crops to pay for inputs for this year’s crops.
“A strike causing a slowing or stoppage of grain movement from Canadian ports will have a massive impact on the entire grain industry, especially farmers,” it said.
“Any disruption in the supply chain will also cause a backlog of vessels that are currently enroute to Canadian ports, adding additional penalties to the industry which will be incurred even after a strike is settled.”
Gunter Jochum, president of the association, said the impact will be felt by consumers eventually.
“A stoppage would be devastating to the industry, and ultimately to consumers,” he said in the release.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.