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Island tourism hopes for deal as border strike looms ahead of summer

Canadian Border Services Agency employees could strike as early as June
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The Vancouver Island tourism industry is watching nervously as the threat of job action looms over the border.

Last week, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the largest Canadian union for the public sector, announced that more than 9,000 members working for Canadian Border Services Agency could go on strike ahead of the busy summer season.

According to Destination Greater Victoria (DGV), tourism is an estimated $1.9 billion industry in the region, with more than three million visitors to the region annually, many of which come from abroad.

“We are hopeful that a resolution can be reached prior to any possible disruption,” said DGV CEO Paul Nursey in a statement to Black Press. “Many of these transportation companies servicing Victoria are considered essential services. In the event of any job action, we expect very little business impact due to essential service designations.”

Between April and May, 96 per cent of PSAC members voted in favour of taking job action, and the union expects strike action could start in June, with mediation sessions scheduled to begin June 3.

“We’re committed to reaching a fair contract that protects workers and improves working conditions for our members,” said PSAC president Chris Aylward in a news release. “As summer travel season nears, we hope the Trudeau Liberal government is making these negotiations a top priority. The window to avert a strike is closing quickly.”

According to FRS Clipper, which offers ferry travel between the United States and Victoria, they are hoping for the best, however they have plans in place if border service members do strike.

“Our guests and their travel experience will always be our priority. We continue to monitor the situation, hoping that a solution can still be found. Should the situation escalate, FRS Clipper will implement a contingency plan accordingly and communicate it to our travellers and partners,” said Gordon Dirker, CEO for FRS Clipper’s U.S. entities.

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