Strike Ends, Canada Immigration Services Resumes

The recent strike that impacted over 155,000 public servants in Canada, including those at Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), has come to an end. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Federal Government have reached a tentative agreement, bringing relief to those affected by the strike.

The strike began on April 19, with PSAC members protesting for fair wages, a better work-life balance, more workplace inclusivity, and reduced layoffs. PSAC members were also seeking to continue working remotely, as they had been doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

After nationwide strike votes were held between February 22 and April 11, negotiations between the PSAC and the Federal Government were unsuccessful in reaching a deal. Therefore, PSAC participants elected to strike as of 12:01 am on April 19.

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Impact of Strike on Immigration Services

During the strike, IRCC cautioned that delays were expected in several areas, such as processing applications, in-person appointments or events including citizenship ceremonies, contacting IRCC via email, phone, or social media, consular citizenship, and passport services, passport services in Canada, Access to Information Act requests, and grants and contributions services. Even though, applying online to IRCC to extend a stay in Canada was still possible.

IRCC also organized a scheduled Express Entry draw last week, which issued 3500 invitations. However, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) reported disruptions to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) as well as the collection of biometrics.

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ESDC is liable for evaluating Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), which are essential for employers who are looking to employ temporary foreign workers. Most Canadian employers rely upon the TFWP for seasonal workers as well as to fulfill urgent labour shortages.

The tentative agreement reached by PSAC and the Federal Government includes higher wages, which will close the gap with inflation, new and improved language relating to working from home, and other favorable provisions for its members. The Government had said the demands would severely impact its ability to deliver services to Canadians and manage employees within the public service.

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On the IRCC website, it explains that ” the services still may experience a slight impact over the next few days as services return to full capacity. We will continue to update information during the labor disruption to explain how services are impacted.”

The strike has caused inconvenience and delays for many, but with the tentative agreement, PSAC members have been instructed to return to work as of 9 AM Eastern Time this morning, or their next available shift. While there may still be some service impacts over the next few days and weeks, the end of the strike brings a sense of relief to those affected by it.

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