POLITICS

Sick leave changes prompt one public service union to create strike fund

07/17/2015 06:01 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
Canada's third largest federal public service labour union has voted to create a strike fund in response to the Conservative government's plan to overhaul public sector sick leave.

The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) will set aside $1 million as seed money for the fund, which president Emmanuelle Tremblay says may be necessary if there's an impasse at the bargaining table.

"What we are doing right now is demonstrating to the employer — in this case the Treasury Board — that we mean business and we are ready to really try and level the playing field," said Tremblay.

A strike in the near future by CAPE employees, which include translators, economists and librarians, remains unlikely, Tremblay added.

- Listen to Tremblay's explanation to Ottawa Morning here.

CAPE is one of 12 public service unions that has filed a legal challenge against the government's 2015 budget bill, which plans to carve out $900 million in savings by introducing massive changes to sick leave and disability programs, on the grounds the changes violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The budget bill was passed in April, and its proposed changes to federal civil servants' sick leave provisions are one of the most contentious issues in talks with public service unions.

Treasury Board president Tony Clement has said the government wants to replace the current system — whereby public sector employees can bank sick days — with one that instead provides them access to short-term disability benefits that were previously unavailable.

Clement previously called the $900 million figure "sacrosanct."