Monthly Archives

October 2021

New federal cabinet announced (October 26, 2021)

By Shuffles

Today was the swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall for the new federal Cabinet, following the 44th election which was held on September 20.

The list of Ministers and their portfolios are:

  • Chrystia Freeland remains Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
  • Omar Alghabra remains Minister of Transport
  • Anita Anand becomes Minister of National Defence
  • Carolyn Bennett becomes Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau remains Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Bill Blair becomes President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
  • Randy Boissonnault becomes Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
  • François-Philippe Champagne remains Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
  • Jean-Yves Duclos becomes Minister of Health
  • Mona Fortier becomes President of the Treasury Board
  • Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Karina Gould becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Patty Hajdu becomes Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
  • Mark Holland becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Ahmed Hussen becomes Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
  • Gudie Hutchings becomes Minister of Rural Economic Development
  • Marci Ien becomes Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
  • Helena Jaczek becomes Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Kamal Khera becomes Minister of Seniors
  • David Lametti remains Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  • Dominic LeBlanc becomes Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
  • Diane Lebouthillier remains Minister of National Revenue
  • Lawrence MacAulay remains Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Marco E. L. Mendicino becomes Minister of Public Safety
  • Marc Miller becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  • Joyce Murray becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • Mary Ng becomes Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
  • Seamus O’Regan Jr. becomes Minister of Labour
  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor becomes Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Carla Qualtrough remains Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
  • Pablo Rodriguez becomes Minister of Canadian Heritage and remains Quebec Lieutenant
  • Harjit S. Sajjan becomes Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
  • Pascale St-Onge becomes Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
  • Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • Dan Vandal becomes Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Natural Resources

Now that Cabinet has been announced, the next step is the Speech from the Throne which will outline the government’s priorities and opens the next session of Parliament which starts on November 22.

Other links:

Full Cabinet list with biographies

News release: Prime Minister welcomes new cabinet

Privacy Commissioner confirms complaints about required vaccinations for public servants

By COVID-19

On Friday, the federal Privacy Commissioner issued a statement in response to the government’s recent announcement of a standardized vaccine passport for COVID-19.

In their statement, the Privacy Commissioner highlighted that the government had consulted them and that, “vaccine passports may offer significant public health benefits and in order to be justified, vaccine passports must be necessary to achieve their intended public health purposes.”

The statement also referenced that the Privacy Commissioner had received “a number” of complaints about required vaccinations for public servants and would be “investigating the application of privacy principles in this context.”

The Privacy Commissioner continued, “the principles applicable to vaccine passports for travel and to the vaccination requirement for federal public servants are the same.”

The statement concluded by saying that no further details can be provided until the Office has completed their investigation into the complaints.

Public servants have until this Friday, October 29 to confirm their vaccination status using the online system GC-VATS.

Then as of November 15, public servants could be placed on leave without pay if they won’t disclose their status, are only partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all.

Some public servants have organized a campaign, “Feds for Freedom” against required COVID-19 vaccinations for the federal public service and held a “peaceful protest” yesterday at one of the public service union headquarters in downtown Ottawa.

Other links:

Privacy Commissioner statement on the Government of Canada’s vaccine passport for travel initiative

Public servants launch campaign against required vaccinations

By COVID-19

A public servant from the Department of National Defence has launched a campaign against required COVID-19 vaccinations for the federal public service titled, “Feds for Freedom.”

The graphic designer started the campaign in August, shortly after Treasury Board announced its intent to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal public servants but the campaign has been gaining traction recently, as public servants have until October 29 to confirm their vaccination status online.

The campaign’s Facebook group has reached over 3,500 members with over 700 new additions in the last week alone.

The group is moderated by five administrators who work at departments ranging from the Department of National Defence to Transport Canada.

The campaign is described as not an anti-vaccination campaign but rather an anti-mandatory and pro-choice campaign.

A quote from former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker appears consistently throughout the campaign’s web and social media platforms, “I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong…”

Feds for Freedom on Facebook

On the social media platform Telegram, the campaign organizer posted, “I am a graphic designer whom has been with the Department of National Defence since 2013. I sincerely believe that these mandates are fundamental wrong. FedsForFreedom was developed to help Canadian Federal Public Service employees & federally regulated employees connect, share information & enact initiatives that will push back to the unions and our employers against this. The path everyone chooses is their own path, we are not here to council you. Only give you all of your options and let you make your own informed choice for you and your families future. STAY STRONG, STAND TALL & HOLD THE LINE!”

Feds for Freedom on Instagram

In addition, 50/50 raffles are being held with funds raised going to, “cover the immense cost of taking on the system, the narrative, and tyranny itself.”

Over $3,600 was raised from the first raffle.

The campaign has also sent a letter to the Prime Minister which cites the Canadian Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Criminal Code, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The end of the letter touches on mental health, “Well, we are here to tell you that the Federal Government of Canada employees are not okay.”

On November 15, public servants unwilling to be vaccinated or disclose their vaccination status could be placed on leave without pay.

The campaign’s website includes a decision tree about next steps and lists possibly pursuing legal action against public service unions if grievances aren’t effective.

The campaign also highlights they accept no responsibility or liability for harms or losses that any public servant may face as a result of following their direction.

Other links:

Feds for Freedom website

Feds for Freedom on Telegram

Highlights: GC vaccination policy & GC-VATS

By COVID-19

Last week, the COVID-19 vaccination policy for the federal public service was rolled out, which included a new online system called GC-VATS where public servants must login to confirm their vaccination status.

Over the past week, many public servants have been active on social media, posting about how the online attestation has been an effortless, smooth process.

Others have also been posting in some circles online that this runs contrary to the public service’s own policies, as well as early discussion around crowdsourced fundraising campaigns online (such as GoFundMe) for those who may be put on leave without pay, should they be unwilling to disclose their vaccination status or unwilling to be vaccinated.

Attestation through online system (GC-VATS)

Before October 29, 2021:

Public servants must login to the new online system called “GC-VATS” (Government of Canada Vaccine Attestation Tracking System) and then follow a series of steps:

Not everyone will be able to do so at once, as Treasury Board indicated that as of October 6, departments will be onboarded in phases.

Then as of November 15, 2021:

Public servants will be placed on administrative leave without pay if:

  • their manager has determined that the duty to accommodate does not apply, and they remain unvaccinated; or
  • they are unwilling to be vaccinated; or
  • they are unwilling to attest to their vaccination status.

The official policy on COVID-19 vaccination for the federal public service

The official policy on COVID-19 vaccination for the federal public service, including the RCMP can be found here.

General highlights:

  • The policy states that public servants must comply with this policy regardless of whether they work onsite, remotely, or telework, “given that operational requirements may include ad hoc onsite presence.”
  • Leave code 699 (Other Leave With Pay), is not available for employees unwilling to be fully vaccinated or unwilling to disclose their vaccination status.
  • The policy also touches on a range of topics including: roles and responsibilities for employees and managers, the duty to accommodate those who can’t be vaccinated, ensuring a respectful workplace free from harassing anyone based on their vaccination status, privacy, and consequences of non-compliance.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Disclosing their vaccination and testing status accurately as required by this policy;
  • Providing truthful information. Failure to do so could constitute a breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and may result in disciplinary action;
  • Informing their manager of their need for accommodation based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act at the earliest opportunity or by the attestation deadline, if possible;
  • Providing their manager with complete and accurate information necessary to identify appropriate accommodation,
  • Refraining from directing harassment or any other prohibited conduct toward an individual for any reason, including their vaccination status or accommodation measures.

Read the full list here.

Managers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that employees who report to them know how to enter their vaccine attestations and any associated data or information in any system (GC-VATS);
  • Reviewing vaccine attestations and any associated data or information entered by employees who report to them, for the purpose of validating that the information complies with the requirements;
  • Responding to employees’ requests for accommodation under the Duty to Accommodate, as outlined above, including:
    • Informing the employee of their obligations;
    • Gathering the relevant information;
    • Making decisions as to whether the duty to accommodate applies;
    • Implementing the decision by identifying the appropriate accommodation measures, which may include mandatory testing; and,
    • Documenting the process.
  • Maintaining a respectful, productive, inclusive, and equitable environment.

Read the full list here.

How to request an accomodation:

Treasury Board indicated that for those who are unable to be vaccinated, accommodation may be determined on a case-by-case basis.  

Employees unable to be fully vaccinated should: 

  • At the earliest opportunity, inform their manager of their need for accommodation based on prohibited grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act;
  • Provide their manager with the accurate information necessary to identify appropriate accommodation, including information on relevant limitations and restrictions; 
  • Cooperate and collaborate in good faith with their organization’s representative(s) to find one or more means to accommodate such needs; and,
  • Notify their manager if their accommodation needs change. 

Consequences of non-compliance:

Within 2 weeks of the attestation deadline:

  • For those unwilling to be fully vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status:
    • Public servants will be required to attend an online training session on COVID-19 vaccination.

At 2 weeks after the attestation deadline:

  • For those unwilling to be fully vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status:
    • Leave without pay and restricted access to the workplace, off-site visits, business travel and conferences.

Read the full list here.

Privacy:

The policy states that, “personal information will be collected and managed in accordance with the Privacy Act.”

Ensuring a respectful workplace:

The policy also states that, “harassment or other prohibited conduct directed toward an individual for any reason, including based on their vaccination status, will not be tolerated.”

Other links:

GC-VATS (the Government of Canada Vaccine Attestation Tracking System)

Policy on COVID-19 vaccination for the federal public service

Fact sheet: I am unable to be vaccinated

Fact sheet: I am unwilling to be vaccinated

Fact sheet: Information for managers

News release: Prime Minister announces mandatory vaccination for the federal workforce and federally regulated transportation sectors

Backgrounder: COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the federal workforce

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (October 8, 2021)

By Shuffles

On October 8, 2021, the Prime Minister announced the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service:

Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Health, becomes President of the Public Health Agency of Canada, effective October 12, 2021.

Heather Jeffrey, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Integration, COVID-19 Task Force, Health Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Health, effective October 12, 2021.

The Prime Minister thanked Iain Stewart for his service as President of the Public Health Agency of Canada upon his return as President of the National Research Council of Canada, effective October 12, 2021, and recognized his leadership in successfully implementing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. He also thanked Mitch Davies for serving as Interim President of the National Research Council of Canada in Mr. Stewart’s absence.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to acknowledge other changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service that took place last month:

Gina Wilson, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, Canadian Heritage, is also serving as Deputy Minister for Women and Gender Equality, effective September 1, 2021.

Shalene Curtis-Micallef, previously Assistant Deputy Minister, Tax Law Services, Department of Justice Canada, is Associate Deputy Minister of Justice, effective September 1, 2021.

Nancy Gardiner, previously Assistant Deputy Minister, Departmental Programs and Operations, Women and Gender Equality Canada, is President of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, effective September 1, 2021.

Frances McRae, previously Assistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Marketplace Services, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, is Chief Administrative Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, effective September 1, 2021.

Ted Gallivan, previously Assistant Commissioner, Compliance Programs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency, is Executive Vice-President of the Canada Border Services Agency, effective September 1, 2021.

Donnalyn McClymont, previously Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Senior Personnel Secretariat, Privy Council Office, is Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal), Privy Council Office, effective September 24, 2021.

The Prime Minister also congratulates the following individuals on their retirement from the Public Service, and thanks them for their dedication and service to Canadians:

James Meddings, President of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Guylaine Roy, Deputy Minister for Women and Gender Equality

Kevin Stringer, Chief Administrative Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Janine Sherman, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel and Public Service Renewal), Privy Council Office”

Other links:

Update to required COVID-19 vaccinations for public servants (October 6, 2021)

By COVID-19

Earlier today, Treasury Board announced that federal public servants will have to attest they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, how they will need to do it and by when, and what happens if they don’t.

This follows August’s announcement, when the government announced its intent to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal public servants.

Attestation through online system (GC-VATS)

Today’s update provided more details, including that all federal public servants, even those working from home will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, must do so by October 29 and attest to it online. This includes all public servants, including members and reservists of the RCMP.

Treasury Board said that, “starting October 6, 2021, employees will be onboarded in phases to provide their vaccine attestation through a secure online system, and they must do so by October 29, 2021.”

Public servants will need to login to the new online system called “GC-VATS” (Government of Canada Vaccine Attestation Tracking System) and then follow a series of steps:

Values and ethics

Treasury Board emphasized that public servants, “have an obligation to provide true attestations.”

Making a false statement would constitute a breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Attestations will be audited and managers can ask for proof of vaccination at any time.

– Treasury Board Backgrounder: COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the federal workforce

Privacy concerns

Unions expressed concern back in August over the privacy of public servants and how their rights would be respected.

Treasury Board reiterated that the collection of private information will be done in accordance with the Privacy Act and Policy on Privacy Protection:

The collection of all personal information from public servants will be done in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Policy on Privacy Protection and its related instruments. Data on vaccination rates within the federal public service is expected to be available in the coming weeks.

– Treasury Board Backgrounder: COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the federal workforce

Exemptions

Back in August, unions were also vocal about the government needing to provide accommodations for public servants who could not be vaccinated for reasons protected under human rights legislation.

In today’s announcement, Treasury Board said that exemptions will apply as, “Employees who are unable to be vaccinated based on a prohibited ground as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act, such as a medical contraindication, may request accommodation.”

Leave without pay for those unwilling to disclose status / unwilling to get fully vaccinated

Then as of November 15, public servants will be placed on administrative leave without pay if:

  • their manager has determined that the duty to accommodate does not apply, and they remain unvaccinated; or
  • they are unwilling to be vaccinated; or
  • they are unwilling to attest to their vaccination status.

The official policy

The official policy policy on COVID-19 vaccination for the federal public service, including the RCMP can be found here.

Unions react

Despite Treasury Board saying today’s announcement was informed by input from unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), one of the largest federal public service unions said that it wasn’t. They said, while they support a policy to vaccinate federal public servants, there was no meaningful consultation with unions and the policy falls short.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said that, “our primary concern is ensuring that all PIPSC members are in compliance.” PIPSC also linked to a form on their website to request help from the union in the event a public servant’s request for accommodation to be unvaccinated is denied.

Other links:

GC-VATS (the Government of Canada Vaccine Attestation Tracking System)

News release: Prime Minister announces mandatory vaccination for the federal workforce and federally regulated transportation sectors

Backgrounder: COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the federal workforce

PIPSC: Mandatory vaccination help form

PSAC: Federal government releases vaccination policy without proper consultation

Treasury Board announces intent to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for public servants

Latest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service (September 29)

By COVID-19

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service since reporting began now stands at 5,829 as of September 29. That’s 232 new cases since the previous report on September 9. The number of total reported cases has been:

  • 5,597 on September 9;
  • 5,470 on August 26;
  • 5,311 on July 29;
  • 5,297 on July 15;
  • 5,256 on June 16;
  • 5,194 on June 2;
  • 5,151 on May 26;
  • 5,091 on May 19;
  • 4,967 on May 12;
  • 4,785 on May 5;
  • 4,581 on April 28;
  • 4,314 on April 21;
  • 4,011 on April 14; and,
  • 3,751 on April 7.

The breakdown is by province and the top five areas with the highest reported cases continues to be:

National Capital Region: 1,585
Quebec (minus the NCR): 979
Alberta: 906
Ontario (minus the NCR): 854
British Columbia: 820

The amount of reported cases in the public service outside of Canada went up to 76.

Province, region or territoryReported cases
Alberta906
British Columbia820
Manitoba238
National Capital Region (NCR)1,585
New Brunswick21
Newfoundland and Labrador23
Northwest Territories7
Nova Scotia51
Nunavut2
Ontario (Minus NCR)854
Prince Edward Island2
Quebec (Minus NCR)979
Saskatchewan263
Yukon2
Outside of Canada76

Other links:

Reported cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the federal public service

Latest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service (September 9)

By COVID-19

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in the public service since reporting began now stands at 5,597 as of September 9. There were 127 new cases between August 26 and September 9. Alberta saw the largest jump from 817 to 853 and surpassed Ontario. The number of total reported cases has been:

  • 5,470 on August 26;
  • 5,311 on July 29;
  • 5,297 on July 15;
  • 5,256 on June 16;
  • 5,194 on June 2;
  • 5,151 on May 26;
  • 5,091 on May 19;
  • 4,967 on May 12;
  • 4,785 on May 5;
  • 4,581 on April 28;
  • 4,314 on April 21;
  • 4,011 on April 14; and,
  • 3,751 on April 7.

The breakdown is by province and the top five areas with the highest reported cases continues to be:

National Capital Region: 1,522
Quebec (minus the NCR): 950
Alberta: 853
Ontario (minus the NCR): 837
British Columbia: 791

The amount of reported cases in the public service outside of Canada went up one to 70.

Province, region or territoryReported cases
Alberta853
British Columbia791
Manitoba234
National Capital Region (NCR)1,522
New Brunswick20
Newfoundland and Labrador21
Northwest Territories2
Nova Scotia49
Nunavut2
Ontario (Minus NCR)837
Prince Edward Island2
Quebec (Minus NCR)950
Saskatchewan243
Yukon1
Outside of Canada70

Other links:

Reported cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the federal public service