‘Uncertainty and anxiety’: PSAC strike impacts citizenship oaths, visa renewals and planned trips

‘Uncertainty and anxiety’: PSAC strike impacts citizenship oaths, visa renewals and planned trips

Many who need to renew their passports and visas or even take their citizenship oaths have been waiting in limbo amid a 10-day strike by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed the government had made “serious offers” at the bargaining table, including a new offer brought to the table that day, but by Friday afternoon the strike continued.

Amaya Hernandez Villavicencio, a student from Mexico, said her application for a student permit had already been delayed a year during the pandemic, which prevented her from starting her studies in Canada on time.

“Now I find myself once again faced with a new upcoming delay in the renewal of [my] student permit,” Villavicencio told CTVNews.ca in an email. The student had planned to go back to Mexico for a medical procedure in the summer, she said, because her health care in Canada did not cover it, but now she’s not sure that she’ll be able to because she must stay in Canada until her student permit is renewed.

“I’m here because this is a great country,” Villavicencio said, “… but it’s discouraging to be unable to see my family again for who knows how long, and not being able to access affordable health care.”

Villavicencio is one of more than 20 people who emailed CTV News about how they’ve been impacted by the PSAC strike.

Arezoo, who asked not to share her full name, said her upcoming citizenship oath is scheduled for next week, but she’s not sure whether it will be postponed.

“I have been studying, working and living in Canada for the past six years and I was finally about to take my citizenship oath next week,” Arezoo told CTV News, “but this strike has left me with nothing but uncertainty and anxiety. I check the news every hour hoping to hear that they have reached a fair deal and everything can go back to normal.”

Arezoo said she was planning on visiting her brother in the U.S. next month, but if she isn’t able to take her oath next week she’s not sure if she will be able to enter the country. “I hope this strike comes to a fair end for all Canadians.”

Jonas, an Edmonton resident who only provided his first name, told CTV News that he and his family moved to Canada eight years ago from Colombia.

“My girlfriend, the children [and I] live paycheque to paycheque,” he said in an email. He said his “very disabled daughter” is turning 15 in May and the family had planned to go to Mexico to celebrate her quinceanera, “which is kind of a big deal if you’re Spanish.”

Jonas said he and his girlfriend saved up for years to afford this trip, but earlier this month they realized their daughter’s passport had expired.

“So we went to the passport office to renew it. Three days later, the strike happened. Now we are going to lose $8,000 [that] we saved and invested [for] her quinceanera.”

On Friday morning PSAC tweeted, “Thanks to inflation rising by 11% since 2021, federal public service workers’ wages are worth the same as they were in 2007. No other industry—none—has seen average inflation adjusted wages pushed back as far as federal public sector workers.”

Approximately 155,000 government workers have been on strike since last week.

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