How the federal workers’ strike may affect you in the NWT

A PSAC flag is seen in a file image
A PSAC flag is seen in a file image. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

A strike involving more than 155,000 federal public servants is beginning across Canada, including hundreds of employees in the North. Here’s what to expect.

Delays at RCMP front desks, disruption to tax returns and passport services, and reduced service from Indigenous Services Canada could be prominent features of federal strike action in the North.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says the nationwide general strike, from 12:01am on Wednesday, has been called after the union “exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract.”

The federal government says it presented a “fair, competitive offer” and meeting the union’s demands would mean agreeing to terms that are “unaffordable and would severely impact the government’s ability to deliver services to Canadians.”



Not all federal workers are affected. Even among workers who are involved, about 47,000 are deemed essential and will continue to report for work, in some form, even as picket lines appear across the country.

In the Northwest Territories, only one picket line location has been publicized by the PSAC: the Greenstone Building, downtown Yellowknife’s main federal office block.

No other locations in the territory appeared on the PSAC’s online picket line finder as of late Tuesday evening.

Picketing outside the Greenstone Building is expected to begin at 7:30am on Wednesday.



Here’s what we know so far from the federal government about how services are expected to change – or remain in place – at key departments and agencies serving the NWT.

Canada Revenue Agency: Delays processing tax returns, particularly those filed by paper, and increased wait times for assistance. Latest information on wait times is accessible via the CRA website.

Canadian Coast Guard: Search and rescue, environmental response and icebreaking services will be maintained.

CanNor: “We will continue to process funding applications and do not anticipate any significant delays to service standards.”

Cirnac: All services maintained, including the Indian Residential Schools call centre and supports for harvesting programs, plus the Northern Contaminated Sites program. There may be delays to response times.

Employment and Social Development Canada: “Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and Social Insurance Numbers are deemed essential services and are maintained.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Expect partial or full disruption to Indigenous funding programs offered by DFO, as well as licensing and some other services. Fisheries enforcement will continue at reduced capacity. See DFO’s website for details.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Most services will be delayed.



Indigenous Services Canada: Delays getting, renewing or replacing a status card, accessing non-insured health benefits, submitting a request under Jordan’s Principle or accessing supports under the Inuit Child First Initiative. See the department’s website for more information.

RCMP: Police in the NWT said on Tuesday evening: “The general public can expect to experience delays in administrative services such as criminal record checks, civilian fingerprinting and traffic accident reporting. Administrative inquiries and non-emergent calls for service can continue to be directed to your local detachment during regular business hours. Emergency police services will remain intact … with 24-7-365 availability across the Northwest Territories.”

Service Canada: Limited in-person service but offices will remain open. Good luck getting a passport, though: “Delivery of passports is limited to clients experiencing humanitarian or emergency situations.” The Temporary Foreign Worker program will be disrupted.

For departments or agencies not listed above, check the federal government’s website.