As I write this week's column from Ottawa, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the public sector union representing most of Canada's federal government workers, has announced it is going on strike.
The key issues are reported to be wages and resistance by federal workers to return to the office instead of working from home.
The government has publicly offered a 9% wage increase over three years. PSAC, however, has countered with a demand of 22.5% over three years. With such a significant wage gap, it may take some time at the bargaining table to resolve this issue or find a path forward on returning to the office for work.
While this occurs, many government services, such as passport and immigration applications, will again be delayed. Depending on the strike's duration, there may be delays in income tax refunds, and disruptions may occur at border crossings and other areas where federal workers are employed.
It should be noted that no worker enjoys going on strike. For many, it disrupts household incomes as strike pay is often well below regular pay. This situation is further challenging if a spouse is also on strike because they also work in the public sector. As some public sector workers have shared with me, wage gains can take several years to offset the income lost during a strike.
For that reason and the public's impact, I hope this strike is resolved quickly for all involved.
Another major topic making headlines in Ottawa this week is a bombshell report from CBC that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family vacationed with wealthy friends who donated to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and that the prime minister’s New Year's trip to an exclusive Jamaican locale cost taxpayers at least $160,000 for security and staff.
That comes after another recent bombshell news report that the prime minister stayed in a $6,000 per-night hotel suite while attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in London England.
What is unusual about the $6,000 per night hotel room stay is Trudeau was asked about this multiple times in the House of Commons during Question Period. Despite knowing he was the one who stayed in the hotel suite, he refused to admit that under direct questioning.
On a different topic, and one that is not making many headlines in Ottawa, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently released a report recommending many changes to the failed air passenger rights framework.
There are 21 recommendations, including larger financial penalties for airlines and a more efficient process for compensation claims consisting of automatic payouts for travellers who encountered significant flight delays. Another significant change would be to place the burden of proof on airlines to document why compensation should not be provided.
My question this week is:
Have you encountered a situation where your air travel was significantly disrupted, and if so, was the existing air passenger bill of rights helpful in resolving the problem?
Reach me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.