Border services strike could begin this week

You may need to give yourself some extra time at the border if you’re travelling this summer, depending on how negotiations with the union repping border officers go this week. 

Driving the news: Mediation to avoid a strike begins today between the Treasury Board of Canada and more than 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Why it matters: A strike by CBSA workers could grind traffic at the border to a halt, causing headaches for travellers and disrupting the flow of the $3.6 billion worth of goods that cross the border every day. 

  • 90% of front-line border officers are considered essential and can’t walk off the job, but they could engage in what’s called “work-to-rule,” which involves doing their job very thoroughly — in effect, slowing down traffic by following procedures to the letter.
     
  • Job action by CBSA workers in 2021 caused major slowdowns at the border, forcing a speedy resolution.

What the workers want: Similar levels of pay as other law enforcement workers, new full-time hires for thousands of vacant positions, and more protections against the self-serve technology now being used at many airports.

What’s next: If mediation fails this week, the union will be able to strike as early as Thursday.