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Mona Fortier: An open letter to public servants and Canadians
April 24, 2023
Statement from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat...
April 24, 2023 - Ottawa (Ontario) - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
As we enter another week of negotiations, I have an important message for you, and for Canadians.
Our team has been working around the clock to negotiate new collective agreements that are fair, competitive, and reasonable. Agreements that deliver wage increases for all employees represented, as soon as possible. Agreements that respect the work of public servants and are in the public interest.
This round of negotiating has been a heavy lift for both parties. The union came to the table with over 570 demands, and we have managed to reach agreement on most of them during our negotiations, in particular over the past three weeks of mediation.
Four key Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) demands remain: wage increases; making telework a negotiated right for some employees; a ban on contracting out; and a requirement that, in the event that the size of the workforce needs to be adjusted, decisions concerning which employees to retain would be based on seniority.
On wages, we proposed an increase of 9% over three years, which would provide the average employee with an extra $6,250. This offer matches the recommendations of the third-party Public Interest Commission (PIC), which were endorsed by the PSAC’s nominee on the Commission. This is higher than our original offer and it compares well with similar agreements being established across Canada, including some recently signed by employees represented by the PSAC in other jurisdictions. What’s more, we also agreed to a signing bonus for every member.
While wage increases benefit everyone, and I believe matching the PIC’s recommendations represents a fair offer, the other PSAC demands are important to different groups of employees. We have provided proposals to address each.
On telework, we have proposed to review, jointly with unions, the current telework directive. The directive has not been re-assessed for a post-pandemic world, so a formal review would help ensure that our approach is modern, fair, and supportive of our employees, while ensuring our teams can deliver on our core purpose: serving Canadians.
On seniority, we’ve proposed the possibility of jointly requesting that the Public Service Commission consider making seniority a factor to be considered after merit, when decisions are being made to adjust the size of the public service.
On contracting out, we intend to reduce this practice as we outlined in Budget 2023. That said, we hope everyone can understand that reducing it to zero would severely compromise the Government’s ability to deliver services and work for Canadians.
Just as we have done with other bargaining agents, the Government wants to reach deals with the PSAC that are fair to employees and reflect the important work they perform. However, any settlement must be reasonable for all Canadians, whether we are talking about this or future rounds of collective bargaining.
We respect the right of employees to strike. This is part of the collective bargaining process. Our Government has always walked the talk when it comes to the importance and rights of unions. In 2015 we repealed Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, two laws that made it harder for new unions to certify, and forced them to disclose their finances so that employers knew exactly what cards they were holding when they went to the bargaining table. We took action to make the collective bargaining system more free and fairer because the best deals are the ones reached between the parties at the table. Period.
It’s important for Canadians and public servants to understand what the Government is doing to end the stress and strain from the labour disruption.
I encourage employees to speak with their PSAC representative so they can get a full understanding of all the issues that remain to be resolved.
We call on the PSAC to urgently work with the Government to negotiate the final key proposals at the table. This will ensure that workers receive fair, competitive agreements and together, we can resume providing important services to Canadians.