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Josh Pringle CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist, Published April 21, 2023 10:56 a.m. EDT

The president of the Treasury Board says she’s confident a deal will be reached at the bargaining table, as 155,000 public service workers spend a third day on the picket line.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada launched a Canada-wide strike at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, setting up picket lines at 250 locations in Ottawa and across Canada. The strike is expected to cause slowdowns and disruptions with all government services, including passport and immigration applications, tax returns and new employment insurance applications.

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier told CTV Morning Live Friday morning the two sides returned to the bargaining table on Thursday.

“I can say that yesterday – positive tone but still courageous conversations,” Fortier said.

“There are some important issues that we’re dealing with right now. We have to make sure on the government side that it does not impact on how we deliver services, so that is the guiding principle.

“I do know that we have one common goal that we build on is the fact that we believe we need to have all the tools necessary to deliver the best services to Canadians. I think that as we come together and continue at the table to negotiate, we will strike that balance.”

The strike involves 120,000 public service workers that fall under the Treasury Board, and 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency employees.

The Treasury Board says the majority of full-time federal workers in four bargaining units, which make up 120,000 employees, earn between $50,000 and $75,000. About three per cent earn less than $50,000.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is asking for a 13.5 per cent raise over three years for all employees under the Treasury Board.  The PSAC-Union of Taxation Employees, representing CRA employees, is asking for a 4.5 per cent raise effective Nov. 1, 2021, and an 8 per cent raise in both 2022 and 2023.

Fortier says the federal government has offered a nine per cent raise over three years.

“As you can imagine in negotiations it’s back and forth, working really hard to understand which side wants something and compromise, and I believe that’s the best way to reach a deal is at the table,” Fortier says.

“We will continue today to work very hard so that we get a competitive deal for workers, a fair one, and also that will be reasonable to Canadians because we need to strike a balance for both.”

On Friday, hundreds of public service workers attended picket lines across Ottawa, including at 90 Elgin Street, Tunney’s Pasture and on Parliament Hill. 

Fortier dismissed a question about the possibility of back-to-work legislation to end the strike, saying her goal was to reach an agreement with PSAC at the bargaining table.

“We are putting all of our efforts and I’m confident that we’ll get to a deal.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Dylan Dyson and The Canadian Press

source: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/treasury-board-president-confident-a-deal-can-be-reached-as-psac-strike-enters-third-day-1.6365434