Global Affairs Canada | The return to work personally occurs in grumbling

(Ottawa) A standoff is emerging between Canada’s Department of Global Affairs and its employees’ union. Returning to face-to-face work three days a week is not possible for some civil servants after two years of working from home.

Posted yesterday at 20:00

Mylene Crete

Mylene Crete
The press

The press received an email recently sent out by the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) to its members, which indicated that the department’s human resources department had “a standard of three days of on-site work per week as a starting point for all civil servants, regardless of the nature of the work involved or the requirements of the service”.

The union is concerned that expatriate officials and central government workers “have already been identified for generally having to spend more time on the job locally” and “the lack of health and safety measures in the event of another wave of the pandemic “.

The union calls for a happy medium

At the end of February, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier gave the go-ahead for the return to face-to-face operations. It indicated at the time that federal government ministries and agencies could resume their plans to “gradually increase building occupancy” and transition to a hybrid working model “as appropriate and operationally feasible.”


Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

“I expect that organizations will continue to be nimble and flexible in their planning, where necessary, to adapt to the changing public health environment,” she said in its written statement at the time.

This return to face-to-face work should occur “while continuing to adhere to the appropriate application of preventative practices in the workplace.”

However, Global Affairs Canada would have a stricter interpretation than other departments. “We wonder if they really did an analysis of the real work, or if there are managers who just want to see the workers on the ground,” PAFSO President Pamela Isfeld said in an interview.

She says she understands that some tasks need to be done in the office or face to face. This is the case, for example, with officials dealing with classified information or diplomatic personnel who need to meet their counterparts in person.

Employees attend meetings and visits, others conduct consular evacuations, this is impossible from a home computer. But there are jobs that can be done on the computer.

Pamela Isfeld, President of the Professional Association of Foreign Services

“Do we all have to go to the same place to sit in an office with other people to write a report after a meeting, or could there be more flexibility? »

“Various hybrid models” in the study

Global Affairs Canada confirms that certain employees will need to return to face-to-face work “on a full-time, part-time or casual basis, as determined by the operational needs of their facility.” However, no instructions have yet been sent to staff.

“The ministry currently has no official directive requiring office attendance three days a week,” spokesman Jason Kung responded to questions from The press. The Department recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to staffing in Canada and abroad. Every team has unique needs and requirements and therefore an approach that reflects those needs. »

Global Affairs Canada wants to test “various hybrid models” before making a decision. During the summer season he needed one day’s work in the office, but this formula is no more popular than being there three days a week, according to the union.

PAFSO wants the Treasury Board Secretariat’s policies to be applied “fairly and consistently in all departments, both domestic and international.”

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