Public Sector Strike: What Impact on Immigration Records?

Since April 19, 2023, more than 150,000 federal employees have been on strike. Representatives from two unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), have been negotiating with the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) since 2021 over salary increases and the management of telecommuting, among other things. The strike, the first of this magnitude since 1991, is ongoing and could affect the management of immigration files.

In practice, all departments and agencies, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Service Canada and Passport Canada, have suspended their services. Only certain services considered essential – such as issuing passports to people who need to travel for work, health or humanitarian reasons – will be retained. The hotlines of the authorities and the services at the border crossings work more slowly.

“We worked day and night to reduce that for a year and a half Residue [d’applications non traitées engendrées par la pandémie et la pénurie de main-d’œuvre des deux dernières années]’ Secretary of State for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser said at a news conference. “We were close to restoring pre-pandemic service standards and in some areas we have restored them. [La grève] will have an impact on these profits. »

THE aspiring citizens Anyone who has an appointment for an exam or an oath in the coming days, which they have been waiting for for several years due to the delays caused by the pandemic, will have to be patient again. “Customers who have appointments will be contacted to reschedule or cancel their appointments,” Minister Fraser said. In most cases, those waiting for their first passport have to wait until the end of the strike.

THE Asylum seekers Anyone with a hearing in the next few days will likely see it

The postponed hearing mentions Me Perla Abou-Jaoudé, an immigration lawyer. “All hearings are postponed except those dealing with detention or investigation. »

“Of course we are not questioning the right to strike, but [nous avons des] customers who are concerned. A few days won’t make much of a difference, but as the strike drags on… the uncertainty will increase [nos clients] in a situation of extreme vulnerability,” she said.

She and her colleague, Me Stéphanie Valois, advise clients to show up for their appointments at the agreed time and place unless they have received clear written notice of an official postponement. “We try to inform ourselves in advance to avoid this [nos clients] “I will appear in court for free, but it is not very clear at the moment,” said Me Valois, president of the Association québécoise des avocats et avocats en droit d’immigration, while stressing the strikers’ right to strike.

THE Canadian visa offices abroad remain open and fully operational, but the strike could cause delays in obtaining work, study, or permanent residence permits.

THE Individuals who are in Canada and are currently awaiting permanent residency or renewal of a work or study permit must also arm himself with patience. However, they must ensure that the application is completed and submitted online before the expiration date of their prior authorization, reminds Dory Jade, president of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants. Despite the strike, online application portals are still accepting applications. “Make sure, together with your representative, that you submit your applications on time! »

For now, he advises employers who rely on temporary foreign workers to ensure their applications for work permit extensions are submitted in good time so that they can benefit from the tacit status. The impact of an ongoing strike on employers, workers, educational institutions and foreign students has yet to be clarified, according to Mr Jade.

Photo: Robbie Palmer

Around Ruby Pratka

As a freelance journalist based in Montreal, she is particularly challenged by stories about immigration, integration and inclusion. She has taught English in Russia and France, worked as a researcher at CBC Quebec, worked in communications for SOS Méditerranée in Sicily and Cuso International in Benin, and volunteered at a refugee camp in Greece.

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