The Public Service Alliance of Canada is declaring a bargaining impasse after failing to make substantial progress towards a new contract with the federal government.

According to a press release from the union, the government is dissolving an existing memorandum of understanding on mental health without replacing it with updated framework. It also noted the government isn’t implementing recommendations from a previous memorandum on childcare, which proposed breastfeeding breaks for employees who are nursing. This refusal is at odds with the right to breastfeed outlined in the Canada Labour Code, noted the union.

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Another point of contestation is the government’s offer of a 1.5 per cent pay increase every year over four years and its request that workers wait up to 18 months before receiving retroactive pay. This raise falls below the rate of inflation and is short of the nearly two per cent pay raise given to members of Parliament on May 1, said the PSAC.

“PSAC members are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that, after almost a year of talks, the government squandered this critical opportunity to negotiate a fair contract for public service workers before the House rises for the federal election,” said Chris Aylward, the PSAC’s national president. “We’ve been left with no choice but to declare an impasse and start the process that will lead to strike preparations.”

In an email to Benefits Canada, the government said it remains open to continued discussions with the PSAC and other bargaining agents.

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, it noted, will make a decision regarding next steps, including whether a public interest commission should be established to help settle the dispute.

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