Union leader suggests increasing pay to attract diplomats to work in the U.S.

Union head says higher pay may be needed to encourage diplomats to work in a key country: the U.S.

“Canadian Diplomats In The U.S. Likely Deserve More Money For High Risk Work Abroad, Union Says”

The union representing Canadian diplomats abroad is pushing for improved compensation for diplomats posted to the United States. According to the head of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, Pamela Isfeld, the increased risk of gun crime and difficulty accessing health care are the key factors behind the request for higher pay. She pointed out that Ottawa needs to better assess security threats for U.S. postings and recognize the challenges that come with living in America, rather than labeling such postings as “exotic.”

Staffing Shortage In The U.S.
Isfeld mentioned that Global Affairs Canada is experiencing challenges in filling positions in United States missions, in part because the compensation doesn’t adequately account for the safety risks and inconveniences of living and working in America. Specifically, she brought up one diplomat posted in a US mission who is currently seeking a transfer due to underfunded local police departments and escalating crime in the city. Safety concerns and difficulties accessing health care are dramatically impacting the work of Canadian public servants and diplomats in the U.S.

Lack Of Public Health Care In The U.S.
One of the key challenges faced by Canadian diplomats in the U.S. is the lack of publicly funded healthcare in America. Isfeld highlighted that Canadian diplomats have reported delays in getting responses to claims and questions while abroad. This is in stark contrast to other countries where diplomats have access to publicly funded health plans and are able to receive immediate access to medical services before sorting out the billing. Two recent cases were brought up where both Canadian diplomats and their relatives in the U.S. experienced problems accessing medical care, including delayed cancer treatment and care for a heart attack, due to issues related to insurance and billing.

Challenges Facing the Idea of Extra Pay
Former Canadian diplomat Roy Norton argued against the union’s request for higher pay, stating that the U.S. should not be treated as a hardship posting. He recommended that the department address issues relating to inadequate insurance coverage, instead of offering additional compensation. Furthermore, Norton emphasized the unique nature of the work for Canadian envoys in the U.S., including opportunities for their children’s education and professional engagement. According to Norton, the department may face public backlash if it chose to augment compensation packages for American postings.

Jeffrey Buenger, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, declined to respond to the ongoing call for improved compensation for Canadian diplomats in the U.S.

The issue of raising compensation for Canadian diplomats in the U.S. is complex and contentious. While the Canadian diplomats’ union maintains that increased risks and access to health care justify boosting pay for missions to America, others emphasize the unique nature of U.S. postings and the department’s broader financial constraints. At the core of this debate is the broader implications for Canadian foreign policy and the potential impact on diplomatic relations with the U.S. More discussions, analysis, and understanding from various perspectives are necessary to fully comprehend the intricacies of this matter.



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