Tentative deal reached for Canada's border workers, averting possible job action

A tentative agreement has been reached for over 9,000 workers at Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), averting potential job action later this week.

The workers are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU).

"Our bargaining team has been working around the clock to secure the best contract for our members, and this tentative agreement is a testament to their incredible hard work and dedication," said PSAC national president Sharon DeSousa.

A ratification vote will be scheduled in the coming days.

Following that, it's expected full details of the tentative pact will be revealed.

"I'm proud of the solidarity our members have shown over that past two years of negotiations," said CIU national president Mark Weber.

Members of the Egyptian community protested in Vancouver on Monday, April 3, 2023 against what they say are decisions made by the Canada Border Services Agency based on Islamophobia and information provided by the Egyptian government.
Roughly 9,000 CBSA workers will have to vote on the tentative deal. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Tuesday's deal comes on the heels of a second job action extension announced on Monday that could have seen it proceed on Friday at all ports of entry.

The two sides have been in mediation since last week.

Workers have been without a contract for two years.

"This tentative agreement demonstrates that the best agreements are always reached at the bargaining table," Treasury Board president Anita Anand said in a statement.

Truck cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada on May 10, 2024.
A truck crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Canada on May 10. Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk, who represents the riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, says the tentative deal is a relief. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

"Border services employees are critical to the safety and security of our borders, and this tentative agreement recognizes the importance of that work while remaining reasonable for taxpayers."

Among other asks, the union was seeking pay parity with other law enforcement agencies.

Concerns mounted with business groups and commuters as job action deadlines approached.

Keeping border flow of services 'vital,' MP says

A Canadian border city Liberal MP calls the tentative deal involving CBSA workers a "tremendous relief."

Irek Kusmierczyk, who represents the riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, said keeping the free flow of services, goods and people going between the two countries is "absolutely vital."

He referred to the agreement as a "fair deal" and said his government will watching the ratification vote closely.

"This is good news, very welcome news," he said.

"There's a number of folks that are very relieved to see that a tentative agreement has been reached."

Heavy traffic at the Ambassador Bridge on Aug. 30, 2023.
Heavy traffic at the Ambassador Bridge on Aug. 30, 2023. (Dax Melmer/CBC)

The head of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) association said the industry is breathing a sigh of relief.

President and CEO Dennis Darby said maintaining full service at all border crossings is crucial.

"While we are pleased a deal was reached, it is unfortunate that labour-related supply chain uncertainty is becoming the norm for Canadian manufacturers and their workers," he said in a statement.