Diplomats announce closing of Canada's top 15 visa processing centres in the world as government and diplomats discussions on binding arbitration fall apart.
Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP

Government and diplomats, discussions on binding arbitration fall apart

Withdrawal Monday of services at 15 of Canada’s largest visa processing centres abroad.

Late Friday afternoon (July 26) the talks between Canada’s government and its diplomats on binding arbitration fell apart.

A press release statement from the minister responsible, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, said: “We are disappointed that PAFSO was so quick to reject our willingness to enter into a binding arbitration process that the union itself requested.”

PAFSO, the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers which represents the diplomats, had initially made the offer of binding arbitration to the government July 18. On Tuesday, July 23 just before a noon deadline, Minister Clement agreed to binding arbitration “subject to certain conditions”.

These conditions were not made public, nor was the response to those conditions from PAFSO made public.

On Friday, it was clear from the letters released by PAFSO of the exchanges with Minister Clement that the conditions for binding arbitration included the key issue of parity with public servants in Ottawa who do similar work to the diplomats.

In a press statement PAFSO wrote: “Let us be clear: PAFSO has not rejected binding arbitration. We offered it in the first place. We agreed to pursue it even with three of Treasury Board’s preconditions. This offer still stands.”

The most apparent impact of the strike has been the slowly down of Canadian visas being issued.

In its Friday statement PAFSO said it regretted the impact of the strike on Canadians and others, blamed the government for the lack of movement on binding arbitration, and announced that:

Effective Monday, in order to persuade the Government that binding arbitration remains the responsible way forward to resolve our dispute, PAFSO members will withdraw all services until further notice at Canada’s fifteen largest visa processing centres abroad: Abu Dhabi, Ankara, Beijing, Cairo, Delhi/Chandigarh, Hong Kong, London, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Paris, Riyadh, Sao Paulo, and Shanghai.

Earlier in the day, in his statement Friday, Minister Clement assured Canadians “we continue to take steps to ensure the timely processing of visas”.

More information:
Statement of Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board on PAFSO negotiations – here
PAFSO website – www.pafso.com
RCI – Background and updates on diplomats’ strike – here


Categories: International, Politics
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