(Montreal) The strike by federal officials could extend the already lengthy processing times faced by passengers who have filed complaints with the country’s airline regulator.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) reports that the backlog of complaints covering issues ranging from lost baggage to flight cancellation compensation currently stands at nearly 45,000, for a average processing time of 18 months.

That figure has more than tripled from a year ago, on the heels of the chaos travelers endured during the summer and winter holidays due to surging demand, labor shortages work and bad weather conditions.

CTA workers are among approximately 155,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada who went on strike on Wednesday.

The agency said in an online message that its “dispute resolution activities may be subject to delays.”

She said regulatory activities such as issuing air licenses and rulings on air, rail and maritime matters would continue, but “the situation may cause delays.”

Gabor Lukacs, president of the advocacy group Travelers Rights, pointed out that the pile of complaints is now so large that even a weeks-long strike would be barely noticeable to most Canadians waiting for a case to be resolved.

“In addition to those 18 months, we would have two more weeks. I mean, it’s a joke,” Mr. Lukacs lamented.

“This is an office that you could easily shut down for a month and you wouldn’t see the difference. »

The CTA did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. Its website stated that “information dissemination activities [would] most likely be delayed,” which includes general inquiries.

Last month, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra promised to extend 75.9 million over three years to deal with the backlog of complaints, including by hiring 200 additional staff.

He also promised to strengthen travel rights rules, following through on a pledge he made in January, when he tabled a bill in the House of Commons on Thursday.