General Updates

COVID-19: Latest information for public service members (March 14)

Note: The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Please ensure you read the most up to date notices on www.acfo-acaf.com and understand that older information may become outdated quickly.

 

We are aware that there is a great deal of conflicting information circulating about protocols in place for public servants as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread. We are working closely with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) but the situation is evolving quickly. Here’s what we can tell you as of now.

A message was sent by Nancy Chahwan, the Chief Human Resources Officer, to all deputy heads and heads of human resources last night. We’ve included a copy of the message in its entirety below. In it, OCHRO is urging departments to be as flexible as possible. Employees who can work from home should be allowed to do so, subject to operational requirements. If you are required to go to work, please practice appropriate social distancing and hand hygiene practices while in the office.

Additionally, any employee who self isolates on the advice of public health officials and can not telework but is otherwise healthy will be given “other leave with pay” so they won’t have to use annual leave. Please do not go to work if you have any symptoms at all or if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. The same category of leave will apply for those who have childcare obligations due to school closures and who can’t find other childcare arrangements.

At this point, your first point of contact should be your supervisor. We’re hopeful this directive from OCHRO will empower them to be flexible and practical given the circumstances. If you run into problems or have any questions after speaking with your manager, please contact ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com.

Thank you for your patience and professionalism in this challenging time.

 

From: Nancy Chahwan, Chief Human Resources Officer

To: Deputy Heads, Heads of Agencies (including separate Employers), Heads of Human Resources

Colleagues,

As part of our pledge to share updates as quickly as possible, I’m providing further guidance to you and your teams on a number of issues.

Flexible work arrangements 

In line with the President of the Treasury Board’s public messaging today, I urge you to be as flexible as possible in leveraging your authorities around existing telework and alternative work arrangements in line with your operational requirements and circumstances.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has been working with Shared Services Canada and departmental Chief Information Officers to maximize internet bandwidth to support remote work and prioritize network access tied to critical operations. More specifically, the following is guidance to help our workforce maximize productivity individually and collectively:

  • Use mobile devices whenever possible to send and receive emails;
  • Connect to VPN/SRA get what you need from the corporate network and disconnect, which allows for others to do the same;
  • Limit the use of video conferencing on the GC network when audio conferencing will suffice;
  • Localize any files before leaving the office; and
  • Download documents outside normal business hours.

Further, tips to maximize collaboration within and across teams, include:

  • Use public cloud services to collaborate with colleagues, for Unclassified work (examples: Facetime, MS Teams, Google HangOuts, Slack, etc.); and
  • Use the BBMe application to communicate with colleagues, for up to Protected B work.

Leave

The situation has evolved since my March 12th e-mail.  The Prime Minister advised today to avoid international travel. In light of this advice, employees should be asked to declare their intent to travel to their manager and must take into consideration public health travel advisories as per the active travel health notices.

I am therefore hereby amending the advice on leave provisions contained in the FAQ document, which will be amended online.

Employees that are required by public health officials to self-isolate: If in good health and able to work, employees will be asked to discuss with their managers the option to telework. If that is not possible, the employees will be granted “other leave with pay (699 code)” as per their collective agreements.

Individual cases may have to be examined on their own merits (i.e. if an employee willingly chose to travel to affected areas contrary to public health advice.)

Employees whose children cannot attend school or daycare due to a closure or because of attendance restrictions in place in relation to the coronavirus situation.  Employees will:

  • Attempt to make alternative care arrangements.
  • If that is not possible, they discuss with their managers, the option to telework.
  • If that is not possible, they will be granted “other leave with pay” (699 code).

The above provisions for disruption of school and daycare operations related to the coronavirus will remain available to employees and managers for the duration of the disruption in the respective jurisdictions but will be reassessed by the Employer on April 10, 2020.

We believe the above takes into consideration the collective agreements, continuity of service to Canadians as well as reflecting the imperative we all have to follow public health advice as Canada continues its containment efforts. As the situation evolves, I would like to underscore that changes in the public health advice could lead to a different approach.

Mental health 

I know we are all seized with the importance of supporting the mental health of our employees navigating this rapidly changing environment.

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer is currently preparing information for employees to outline key resources and tips for continuing to take care of their mental health and that of their teams in our workplaces.

We also need to encourage our teams to seek the help they need by contacting the 24-7 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or your departmental coordinator, accessing care through the Public Service Healthcare Plan (PSHP) or using the nationwide Specialized Organizational Services (SOS).

Facilities

If you are located in a Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) building and you believe that you are confronted with a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case, please immediately contact PSPC’s National Service Call Centre. PSPC or their service provider will work with the occupants to design and implement an appropriate disinfection plan as an Additional Building Service.

Finally, please continue to stay up to date through the Canada.ca/Coronavirus and GCIntranet websites.

Thank you and take care of yourselves.

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