Tag Archives: psac

PSAC: Governments must prioritize vaccinations for front-line workers

Canadian border crossing

PSAC is pressing governments to prioritize vaccinations for critical front-line workers across Canada to limit the spread of COVID-19.

PSAC represents thousands of front-line workers doing critical work at Canada’s borders, in federal penitentiaries, day shelters and group homes, community parole officers, firefighters, Coast Guard staff and employees on military bases, meat-packing plant workers, food inspectors and many more.

Their close contact with the public and other employees while performing their work puts them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and contributing to outbreaks in their communities. That’s why it’s crucial that all provinces and territories provide access to vaccinations for front-line essential workers as soon as possible, as per Stage 2 of the Government of Canada’s vaccine schedule.

“The federal government has an obligation to safeguard the health and safety of all its employees during the pandemic,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “Federal ministers must step in and mandate provinces and territories to accelerate vaccinations for front-line essential workers as soon as possible, as recommended in the federal government’s own vaccination schedule.”

PSAC and components, including the Customs and Immigration Union and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, have been lobbying both the federal and provincial governments, including Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, to prioritize vaccinations for our members.

“Canada Border Services Agency personnel have continued to perform critical work despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, CIU national president, representing more than 11,000 CBSA officers and workers across the country. “With a third wave now well underway and the growing threat of COVID variants, it’s imperative for frontline Border Services officers to be prioritized for vaccinations equally across the country, alongside other first responders and law enforcement personnel.”

Some provinces have prioritized vaccinations for front-line workers early on, while others still refuse to consider many front-line workers essential under their vaccination plans, creating a patchwork system that puts workers and the Canadians they serve at risk. Two workers, doing the same job and facing the same risk of exposure to COVID-19, could be vaccinated months apart under the current provincial arrangement.

“By not quickly moving to vaccinate all front-line staff who work day in and day out with federal offenders, we put thousands of Canadians and employees at continued high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks,” said Stan Stapleton, national president of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees representing all federal employees working in rehabilitative, parole, maintenance, food service and related support roles in federal minimum, medium and maximum security penitentiaries, as well as Community Correctional Centres and parole offices across Canada.

PSAC will continue to pressure the federal government to work collaboratively with provincial public health authorities and ensure all front-line workers are equally prioritized as part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.

CIU Statement on PSAC Anti-Racism Webinar

Photo of CIU flag

Sisters and Brothers,

The Customs and Immigration Union is a component of the PSAC. Our members benefit from the strength that comes from being part of the largest federal public sector union in Canada.

The CIU does not tolerate bullying, harassment or intimidation. Whether at a union event, on social media or in the workplace, we have always taken a firm stance on tolerance, respect and dignity. Our members have the right to ask questions, especially of their union, without being made to feel belittled or attacked.

The PSAC decided to offer a webinar in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. CIU applauded that initiative and believed it would be informative and beneficial to our members.

By creating a provocative webinar title – An Introduction to Anti-Racism for White Folks – we can only assume that the facilitators wanted to spark debate and were encouraging participants to explore why white people need to engage more fully in the anti-racism initiative. In other words, sparking questions creates a teaching moment, and that’s a good thing.

On social media, a PSAC member asked exactly the question that the title of the seminar was designed to elicit. Why was this webinar only for white people?  Instead of using the question to explore the content of the webinar, one of the facilitators simply told the member to “eat shit”.

The controversy that followed is not about racism. It’s about respect. At CIU, we want our members to receive the best possible training from the most competent experts we can find. Clearly, this isn’t it.

The CIU represents over 11,000 workers, many of whom are law enforcement professionals. While we stand behind global efforts to combat racism, we advocate for a reasoned and informed approach to education and change. We all need to do better but believe that sweeping generalizations about law enforcement don’t move us forward.

We believe that the comments surrounding the PSAC webinar are offensive and inappropriate. We also believe that our members deserve better and should not be subject to abuse when they engage in discussion with someone who has been contracted to speak on behalf of their union.

The PSAC is a democratic organization. In light of recent discussions, one of which held by the PSAC National Board of Directors, an earlier decision to remove Nora Loreto from her role as one of the webinar’s facilitators was reversed. The CIU did not support this decision. We continue to find her comments and behaviour indefensible and question her ability to facilitate a productive and inclusive discussion. As such, we are not encouraging our members to participate in this webinar.

Again, the CIU’s decision to distance itself from the PSAC’s webinar is about respect. The CIU is working on a number of anti-racism initiatives and continues, as always, to support all efforts to put an end to racism.

We believe that this goal can be achieved through inclusive, constructive and respectful dialogue.

In solidarity,

The CIU National Executive

Get back to the table now

Image conversation PSAC AFPC

PSAC members stepped up to deliver the government’s massive response to COVID-19 in record time.

Yet the government continues to delay talks for a new contract for nearly 140,000 federal public service workers.

Tell the government to get back to the table. Now.

Go to the PSAC website to send a message to the Trudeau government telling them it’s time to reach a fair deal for public service workers.

PSAC National President & Executive Vice-President to host telephone town halls

Illustration telephones

Chris Aylward, PSAC National President, and Magali Picard, PSAC National Executive Vice-President, will host a series of telephone town halls on May 13 and 14 to connect with members and update them on the union’s work to protect and support its members during the pandemic.

Telephone town halls will be 30 minutes each. Members are invited to participate by calling-in using the information below or joining the online audio stream at the time their regional town hall begins.

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Phoenix: PSAC Launches Here for Canada National TV Ad Campaign

Photo of Border Services Officer with the words Here for Canada

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is launching a national television ad campaign to highlight the dedication of public service workers throughout the Phoenix pay system disaster, which has now been going on for two and a half years. Despite missed paycheques, fending off debt collectors, and managing endless uncertainty, PSAC members have continued to be here for Canada.

“Most people would quit their job if their employer stopped paying them properly, but federal public service workers keep showing up to work day after day,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.

“They continue to protect our borders, ensure our food is safe, and provide other vital functions like getting out pension cheques, child benefits, and EI. We want to make sure Canadians understand their unwavering commitment to keep providing the services they depend on,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.

PSAC is also launching a second video online as part of the Here for Canada campaign. It features testimonials of the damage caused by Phoenix.

“So many families have suffered major hardships because of Phoenix. It’s important to share their stories and ensure that everyone knows about the toll it has taken on people’s lives,” said Magali Picard, PSAC National Executive Vice-President. “Phoenix is still causing problems for thousands of our members and the government needs to do more to end this nightmare.”

A version of this article was posted on the PSAC website.