Despite all the magic of social media, letters still pack a serious punch. A letter to the editor, to an MP, to your municipal councilor can make important inroads. PSAC members know more than almost anyone about the public services we provide, and we are best equipped to speak up and write up when these services are under attack.
Dear Mayor Philip Brown,
Thank you for your telephone call on the evening of June 15, 2020. I am the President of the PEI Area Council of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). PSAC represents over 3,100 federal public sector employees in Prince Edward Island including workers at Veterans Affairs Canada, Parks Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Service Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency here in Charlottetown.
Many workers represented by PSAC have not seen salary increases since the 2015/2016 years due to elapsed collective agreements and this government’s intransigence at the bargaining table. When the Covid-19 public health emergency was declared in March, PSAC was in the midst of strike preparations due to the stalled contract negotiations. Despite the status of collective bargaining, federal public servants across PEI dutifully established home offices in March to continue the critical business affairs of the public service during the pandemic. Many workers spent hundreds of dollars from their own personal funds to purchase necessary home office items and furnishings to be able to support Canadians during an unprecedented emergency.
Workers here in Charlottetown assisted with emergency relief programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to name only a couple of the new programs introduced by the federal government. Others continued to ensure that vital supports for Canada’s veterans were not disrupted by the pandemic. Federal public servants have shown great patriotism, pride, dedication, and innovation during this challenging time.
PSAC was disappointed by your social media posts calling upon Minister Lawrence MacAulay “to bring federal employees back to work.” As I explained in our conversation, the federal public service never ceased to work and PSAC found your statement to be erroneous and potentially misleading to the general public. I also note that this is National Public Service Week, a time to show appreciation and thanks for Canada’s public servants who have been so tireless and dedicated in difficult times. I acknowledge and appreciate that you have apologized for this unfortunate phrasing in your social media posts. I further appreciate your explanation that you had intended to discuss returning to “work places” rather than returning “to work.”
You committed to editing or deleting the social media posts, which we agree were not reflective of the reality for thousands of federal public sector employees in and around Charlottetown. PSAC will be pleased when these public statements are clarified or withdrawn.
I thank you for engaging in a mutually-respectful dialogue regarding the health and safety of federal public sector employees. I believe we are in clear agreement that health and safety is of paramount concern and we must continue to innovate and adapt to this ongoing public health emergency to the benefit of our community and Canada as a whole.
PSAC in PEI looks forward to building upon the positive working relationship we have initiated through this dialogue.
President, PEI Area Council
Public Service Alliance of Canada