Workers at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) are picketing outside the constituency office of Treasury Board President Mona Fortier as part of their ongoing strike for respect, fairness and equity. Around 75% of the striking group are women; they are also the lowest-paid at the OAG, without a contract since 2018.
To mark International Women’s Day, the workers are demanding that Ms. Fortier provide the OAG with a mandate to address longstanding equity concerns through: 1) the adoption of a wage grid with economic increases consistent with those in the core public service, and 2) continued wage parity with other groups within the OAG.
PSAC estimates that addressing these equity concerns will cost the OAG about $215,000 annually, or less than 0.2% of the organization’s buget.
“Today, we’re celebrating women’s achievements while calling out inequality. But Ms. Fortier and Auditor General Karen Hogan have been ignoring our fight for equity for months now,” said Caroline Leclerc, president of the union local at the OAG. “It’s time for the government to live up to its commitments to feminism and treat our members with fairness.”
Spring OAG reports delayed, helping government avoid accountability
The delay in contract negotiations is being caused by Treasury Board and calls into question the true independence of the OAG. Even though the OAG is an independent agent of Parliament, contract negotiations with the union are overseen by the Treasury Board.
The strike is already having a major impact on the OAG’s ability to fulfill its mandate. As the Auditor-General stated in a letter to the Public Accounts committee, she is delaying the release of her spring reports. These reports are used by parliamentarians to hold the government to account for its handling of public funds.
“With our members walking picket lines and the Office not able to get reports published, the government is going unchecked,” said Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “It makes you wonder if the government is dragging out the strike on purpose.”
Several MPs, including Deputy NDP Leader Alexandre Boulerice, Matthew Green, and Blake Desjarlais, have come to the union’s aid, raising the strike in the House of Commons and writing a letter to Mona Fortier imploring her issue a new bargaining mandate to the OAG.