In early June, 1350 members of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) responsible for processing visa applications at Canada’s mission abroad, started a rotating strike action which has dramatically slowed visa processing and created widespread uncertainty and anxiety throughout our sector. Given PAFSO’s intention to strike during the height of summer tourism season, TIAC took immediate action to notify Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement of the dire economic impact the strike action would have and to appeal to both sides to remain at the table and on the job to negotiate an outcome.
With nearly one third of bookings at risk from growing non-visa waiver countries including Brazil, India, China and Mexico, TIAC launched a media campaign highlighting the strike’s estimated $280 million cost to the Canadian economy with targeted impact on the travel and tourism industry already reeling from various disasters.
Following an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the strike through arbitration, the union moved to full strike action in early July without sympathy or remorse for those who derive their livelihoods from our sector. In fact PAFSO estimates the economic impact of their strike action to be closer to $1 billion.
TIAC has written to the Minister’s responsible for Treasury Board, Tourism, Immigration, Foreign Affairs and Trade suggesting a number of actions available to the government to mitigate the impact of the strike action and to insulate the industry from future action which includes ramping-up electronic processing through visa application centres (VAC), implementing a CAN/US reciprocal visa program and granting visa waiver status for Brazil and Mexico.
TIAC remains highly engaged with the respective government departments to expedite these files.