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Small businesses worry about impact of potential CRA strike over a billion-dollar wage hike

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The potential strike by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) unionized workers over a 33 per cent raise over three years poses a threat to small businesses that rely on CRA services and tax guidance every day, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

“The timing couldn’t be worse. The potential strike would create additional uncertainty, especially in the middle of tax season. With certain CRA services being delayed or unavailable during a labour disruption, we worry that many small businesses may not be able to get answers in a timely manner or to submit their tax payment on time,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “The proposed wage increase would also be extremely costly to Canadians and add to their already heavy tax burden.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada–Union of Taxation Employees (PSAC-UTE) adjustment and pay raise currently asked would represent a 33 per cent wage increase over three years. This could cost taxpayers close to a $1 billion to pay just for the wage increase. And with PSAC already signalling a broader potential strike of over 100,000 workers, the impact to small businesses and taxpayers could be much greater.

Small businesses already have a hard time reaching the CRA. Last week, CFIB released its latest CRA Report Card, which shows 53 per cent of business owners had to call multiple times before connecting with an agent, and only 23 per cent of business owners felt confident in the answers provided to them. The potential strike would further exacerbate the situation, causing additional strain on small businesses.

As the CRA and the PSAC-UTE resume negotiations today, CFIB is asking both sides to quickly reach an agreement in order to avoid the negative impacts of a strike.

Given that the potential strike would occur through no fault of small businesses, CFIB is asking the CRA to:

  • Maintain full service to small business during the current collective bargaining negotiation or if a strike is triggered
  • Ensure clear communication of small business owners’ responsibilities in the context of a strike
  • Delay tax deadlines to ensure businesses do not receive penalties and interest because of the work stoppage
  • Consider back to work legislation if negotiations fail

“If CRA workers, in addition to more than 120,000 other federal public servants, go on strike, the impact on small businesses could be massive,” Kelly said. “We’re looking to both sides to come to a quick resolution at a cost taxpayers can afford.”

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