Over 17,000 Parks Canada employees continue rotating strike action at various national parks and historic sites across the country. Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) have been on strike since early August in a dispute that has cost the federal government hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost admission at various sites.
Members of PSAC are demanding wage increases of five percent over the next three years and better health and safety guarantees in their contract with Parks Canada. As well, they want their wages to be at par with other similar civil servants. Parks Canada, however, has countered with wage increases of only 2.5, 2, and 1 percent over the next three years. Parks Canada workers have been without a contract for over a year.
The Parks Canada dispute is the first confrontation between public service employees and the new Paul Martin government. It is doubtful that this will be the last. Immediately after being crowned prime minister, Martin announced a hiring and spending freeze for Canada’s civil service. The Liberals have promised to cut costs in the public service and government employees are certainly going to receive the brunt of these cost-cutting measures. Undoubtedly, the Martin government is hoping to use the Parks Canada strike as an example as it tries to negotiate contracts with most of the civil service in the coming year, when many contracts are set to expire.