Canada’s PSAC Strike and its Impact on Immigration

PSAC Strike and Canadian Backlog

What is the PSAC 

The PSAC, Public Service Alliance of Canada, is one of Canada’s largest Unions, with its headquarters in Ottawa. It was formed in 1966 and currently represents over 230,000 workers across every province and territory in Canada and worldwide. Members include workers for federal government departments, agencies, corporations, universities, casinos, Aboriginal communities, security sectors and other sectors. 

The PSAC aims to achieve a compassionate and inclusive society free of sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. They are committed to ensuring access to quality public services, social justice, emergency relief funding, and anti-poverty and development work in Canada and the world. 

The PSAC strike 

The PSAC declared a general strike starting Wednesday, April 19, over disagreements with the federal government on proposed wage increases that were outstripped by the rising inflation rate. 

Over 100,000 federal government workers from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) represented by the PSAC have already staged a walkout, demanding higher wages, greater job security and the ability to work remotely. 

The strikes, already touted as one of the largest in Canadian history, have affected the functioning of many government sectors, including taxation and Immigration. 

How will it affect Canadian Immigration 

Prospective immigrants and other interested parties can still  

  • apply online 
  • mail applications 
  • use their online account and 
  • access emergency services  

Services offered by non-governmental organizations in Canada and abroad will remain available. This includes: 

  • settlement services from partner organizations 
  • healthcare through the Interim Federal Health Program 
  • Visa application centres outside Canada 

However, the IRCC’s capacity to service citizenship applications, international and domestic passport processing, Immigration related appointments like citizenship ceremonies and in-person appointments and applications to extend temporary stays will be severely limited, ‘delayed or not delivered at all’ during the strike.  

Service Canada will only process domestic passport applications for Emergency and humanitarian situations such as passport clients at financial risk, reliant on travel as a source of employment, medical grounds, and cases deemed urgent on compassionate grounds. 

Further, servicing standards already affected by the IRCC’s backlog dating back to the Covid pandemic may face further disruptions and delays. 

The signs are especially worrying for Canada’s international students and temporary workers, who may find their applications, school, work and travel schedules disrupted.  

Canadian Immigration backlog 

Backlogs are applications in the IRCC’s inventory that have exceeded their service standards. The IRCC’s backlog is currently at 896,300 as of March 31, 2023. 

Are any resolutions to the PSAC strikes in sight? 

It’s unclear how long the strikes will continue; the government could introduce forced back-to-work legislation, pursue further negotiations or cave to the PSAC’s demands. For comparison, the 1991 strikes of a similar scale lasted 13 days before government legislation forced workers back to the workplace. 

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.