The Public Service Alliance of Canada’s general strike entered its second day Thursday, and as workers returned to the picket lines it left some feeling anxious, particularly those waiting for their tax returns.
Tens of thousands of workers from the PSAC union began striking on Wednesday after a deal failed to be reached with the federal government.
PSAC called for better job security, remote work opportunities, a wage increase, and more. The union also called for a 4.5 per cent pay increase each year. However, the Treasury Board only offered 2.5 per cent each year in return.
As a result, many services within the immigration and tax processing sector have been delayed or postponed entirely.
“We are doing what we can to keep essential services going. There’s stuff still coming in, stuff still getting done. We’re trying to do the best we can to meet the needs on both sides,” said Teresa Whitcroft, Strike Captain with PSAC.
The Canada Revenue Agency says that those who filed their income tax and benefits can expect delays in returns, especially if they filed by mail. However, other benefits like the Canada Child Benefit are being prioritized.
The CRA says it won’t push back the tax deadline of May 1, but taxpayers do have the opportunity to request the removal of late filing fees for circumstances beyond a taxpayer’s control.
“There’s nervousness for sure,” said Douglas King, Executive Director of Together Against Poverty Society.
King says that TAPS helps hundreds file their taxes each year. Many of them are low-income, on disability, or foreign students. He says income tax returns are often a lifeline for them.
“We don’t know what kind of delays we’re going to be looking at. If someone has filed and is waiting for their tax return to come in … definitely there’s a lot of anxiety,” said King.
The immigration sector has also been hit hard by the strike. The government’s website says that passport applications are only being handed out for emergency and humanitarian situations. Those looking to process passport applications both domestically and internationally will be out of luck.
Citizenship events such as ceremonies have been postponed until further notice. Travellers at borders can also expect longer wait times.
“Those using IRCC services will continue to be able to make applications online or by mail. They’ll be able to access their accounts and there will be access to some emergency services,” said federal immigration minister Sean Fraser at a conference on Wednesday.
In a tweet earlier today, Treasury Board president Mona Fortier said that they have returned to the bargaining table with PSAC.