Ottawa residents preparing for the possibility of a major strike

With the clock ticking before a strike deadline imposed by the union representing 155,000 federal public servants, residents of Ottawa and from around the region were preparing for possible disruptions.

The federal government is Ottawa’s largest employer and a strike would affect people across the city. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the government have been bargaining ahead of PSAC’s deadline of 9 p.m. ET.

Kelly Forrester drove one hour from Winchester knowing the Service Canada office at Prince of Wales and Meadowlands Drive in Ottawa offered expedited service.

“So excited to have the passport today, we are going on a trip on Thursday,” she said. The 21-year-old is off to Orlando, Fl. and needed the essential item to cross the border. “We paid for the expedited service and thankfully we got it today.”

Forrester also relieved she received it ahead of a possible nationwide strike looming for federal workers that could affect services.

“At 12:01, if there is no deal by nine o’clock tonight, Wednesday morning the strike will officially be on,” said Larry Leadman, a federal worker who works at Tunney’s Pasture.

This means 155,000 federal unionized workers at more than two dozen departments will head to the picket lines.

For Canadians, this means disrupted services at the Canada Revenue Agency, passport services, Service Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

PSAC says picket locations will include federal government buildings, Parliament, Service Canada locations and the offices of MPs.

“Do I want to (strike)? No, but I’ll honour it,” said Leadman, who worries about his colleagues who can’t afford for the strike to go through. “I don’t think a lot of people want to, but sometimes push comes to shove and in bargaining that’s what happens.”

Ottawa police say they will be speaking with representatives from PSAC to keep the community apprised of any major traffic disruptions that could arise as a result of picketing. The city of Ottawa will also communicate any traffic delays through its social media channels, police said.

PSAC says workers need raises to keep up with inflation. It is seeking between 13.5 and 20 per cent over three years. The government is offering 9 per cent.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said both parties are negotiating extremely diligently and with a lot of intensity to try to resolve this. The President of the Treasury Board, Mona Fortier, also said she is working hard to get a deal.

With remote work also a top issue, Toronto-based employment lawyer Richie Appiah says this could set a standard.

“The issue for remote work spans both private and public sector work places. The result of those negotiations will set a precedence,” he said.

The government said Monday that PSAC’s demands for remote work could “severely impact the Government’s ability to deliver services to Canadians and would limit its ability to effectively manage employees within the public service.”

When asked about why remote work remains a sticking point, Fortier declined to respond directly, only saying negotiations continue.

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Ted Raymond.

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