Taxpayers Federation says Canadians 'can't afford PSAC's demands'

The Treasury Board Secretariat provided the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) with the union's demands, which include up to a 47% compensation increase over three years. It will cost taxpayers $9.3 billion over three years.

Taxpayers Federation says Canadians 'can't afford PSAC's demands'
Facebook/ PSAC-AFPC (Image Left) Twitter/Franco Terrazzano (Image Right)
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After several days of strikes by the federal public service, Treasury Board workers and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are nearing a deal. 

Although there has been progress on remote work and pay raises for Treasury Board workers, the strike will continue amid ongoing discussions with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The union intends to "escalate" their actions on Monday, said a statement.

On April 19, Chris Aylward, national president of PSAC, made cryptic remarks on their picketing strategy, stating, "We're not taking over the streets…shutting down airports or borders yet."

"We're not inconveniencing the public," he claimed. "We're here on Parliament Hill in Ottawa…the public doesn't care about us being here."

"We have strategic picket lines across the country. The longer we're out here, the public [will] see more and more inconvenience. We don't want to do that. It's up to the government how long the strike lasts."

Last Wednesday, 120,000 Treasury Board workers and 35,000 CRA staff called a strike after negotiations with the Treasury Board broke down. PSAC is asking for higher wages and the ability to work from home.

CRA employees requested a 22.5% salary increase over three years, and employees of the Treasury Board sought a 13.5% raise over the same period. The federal government proposed a 9% increase over three years for both groups.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) added that taxpayers couldn't afford these compensation demands, costing $9.3 billion over three years.

"Taxpayers can't afford PSAC's demands," said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. "Canadians struggling to afford groceries and gas don't have billions more to pay for unreasonable demands."

"At the Treasury Board, we made some headway on remote work language, and both sides have moved [to] get closer to a resolution on wage increases," said Chris Aylward on Sunday, PSAC national president, adding that negotiations with CRA workers have not progressed.

The Treasury Board Secretariat provided the CTF with the union's demands for increased wage and non-wage benefits, which include up to a 47% compensation increase over three years. 

The non-wage benefits demanded by PSAC of taxpayers include:

  • A special shift premium whenever members work past 4 p.m.;
  • Taxpayer-funded contributions to the PSAC's Social Justice Fund;
  • An education fund for laid-off members of up to $17,000;
  • Increased paid leave for family-related responsibilities from 37.5 hours to 75 hours annually;
  • Accrual of four weeks of automatic vacation leave after four years of service rather than after seven years of service.

"PSAC's demands come with a huge price tag for Canadian taxpayers," said Terrazzano. "The government must remember that many Canadians are struggling, so any deal must be affordable for taxpayers."

According to PSAC, the feds received an offer from them and provided members with a counteroffer. They did not provide details on the counteroffer at the time of writing.

According to the Fraser Institute, government workers enjoy higher wage premiums and more generous benefits over the private sector.

According to data from Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, government employees across Canada — including federal, provincial and municipal workers — earned 31.3% higher wages, on average, than workers in the private sector in 2021. After adjusting for differences such as age, gender, education, tenure, type of work, industry, and occupation, government employees receive 8.5% higher wages than private sector comparables.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer said compensation for each full-time federal employee is $125,300 on average for pay, pension and other benefits. Some 312,825 federal employees received at least one pay raise during the pandemic and $559 million in bonuses since 2020.

"At a time when governments across Canada are facing serious fiscal pressures [due to] the recession, bringing government sector compensation in line with the private sector would help reduce costs without necessarily affecting services," said Ben Eisen, a senior fellow with the Institute.

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