Written By Jason McNaught
The Public Service Alliance of Canada was one of the most vociferous opponents of the Harper government during Election 42. Now that it’s all over, and PSAC finds itself governed by a Prime Minister that’s promised “Real Change,” you could be forgiven for thinking that the war is over.
While the Conservatives have sounded the bugle of retreat and long-reigning PM Stephen Harper has stepped down from his post as leader of his party, PSAC isn’t quite ready to organize a ticker-tape parade outside Parliament Hill.
PSAC National President Robyn Benson has acknowledged the new Liberal government’s “strong mandate for change,” but is pushing for follow-through beyond campaign promises. “We can on the Liberals to practice a new kind of politics,” Benson states, “to work collaboratively with the NDP and other progressives in Parliament to put Canada back together again.”
One particular area of concern is restoring the bargaining rights of federal government employees, and to repeal anti-union legislation passed by the Harper government. “We call on the new government to act on these promises without delay,” stated Benson.
Specifically, PSAC wants Trudeau’s Liberals to immediately:
- Restore and strengthen federal public services, including the re-opening of Veterans Affairs offices closed by the Conservatives in 2014;
- Repeal the parts of budget implementation bills (C-4, C-10, C-59) that changed labour laws, imposed wage reductions, took away pay equity rights, weakened workplace health and safety protections, and gave the Government the unilateral right to remove the sick leave provisions in negotiated collective agreements;
- Restore the right of unions to represent members with respect to pay equity claims;
- Repeal Bill C-525, which makes it harder for workers in the federal sector to organize, and Bill C-377, which is both unconstitutional and a violation of privacy rights.
There are many relationships in this country that Trudeau has vowed to repair, and a lot of hope pinned to his impassioned promise to bring “real change” to Canada. Whether or not Benson and PSAC get exactly what they want from the Liberals – to the level that they expect – remains to be seen.