On March 27, Premier Jason Kenney suggested that federal public servants were refusing to go to work after a case of COVID-19 was linked to a meat processing facility in Drumheller, Alberta.
Premier Kenney was quoted saying:
“We’re seeing a huge increase in demand for those products and we can’t have the CFIA essentially impairing our entire livestock industry by people refusing to go on the job... For heaven’s sake, we have millions of Canadians who are losing their jobs right now who need government benefits,” he said. “I would ask folks across the broader public sector to realize in a way they’re fortunate that they continue to get a paycheque when many in the private sector are being laid off by the millions right now.”
President Debi Daviau sent a letter to Premier Kenney making it clear that we support our members at the CFIA and our members in Alberta. They are working through extremely difficult circumstances to make sure that people in Canada can access the public services they rely on. Our members have and always will put the safety of Canadians first.
In reality, in the case in question, workers were prevented from entering the Harmony Beef facility by CFIA managers – unionized workers did not unilaterally decide to walk off the job, as was suggested.
In the letter, President Daviau further underlined that our members, and those of our CFIA colleagues represented by the Agriculture Union, will remain at their posts and continue to perform their critical work despite the threat posed by COVID-19. She reminded the Premier that it is paramount that their work environment is deemed safe by public health authorities.
President Daviau called on the Premier to "cease from making offensive and inaccurate statements. Our members and all employees at the CFIA are first-line defenders of our citizens’ health and well-being. They are needed by all Canadians and they are committed to getting the job done."
We are currently facing a tragic global pandemic, this is not the time for petty attacks on public servants. PIPSC is committed to working with all employers to get through this crisis effectively and expects the same in return.
Read President Debi Daviau's letter to Premier Kenney.