Almost 4,800 Parks Canada workers began rotating strikes on Friday to back demands for a new contract, limiting services at national parks and historic sites across the country, according to the Canadian Press.
Employees at Banff and Jasper, for example, stopped selling parks passes to visitors over the weekend, which Parks Canada estimated would cost about $75,000 in lost revenue. Information services to visitors were also reduced to spartan operations, and many visitors were being referred to local businesses for assistance.
Likewise, the locks on the Rideau Canal system in Ottawa, and the Trent-Severn system in southeast Ontario, which are operated by Parks Canada staff, were also closed, and pickets blocked boats on the Lachine Canal in Montreal.
Jurgin Veagle, a spokesman for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the strikers, said many campers in Jasper were forced to camp illegally wherever they could.
“There were little tent cities all over the park,” Veagle said. “At normal times, that would be a problem because it’s a danger to the park’s environment.”
But park spokesperson Gisele Danis said illegal camping is always a problem at Jasper and the situation wasn’t any worse than usual on Saturday.
She said there was no increase in the number of illegal campers that were charged on Saturday night, and she said there was a full complement of park wardens on patrol.
Negotiations between the union and Parks Canada broke of last week. The dispute is largely centered on wages and job security.