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March 2022

Departments permitted to resume return to workplace plans

By COVID-19

Earlier this week, Health Canada updated its guide to workplace re-entry for the public service so that departments can now resume their return to workplace plans with their employees.

At the end of last year, departments were asked to pause their return to workplace plans following growing concern for the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In Monday’s statement, the President of the Treasury Board said:

“Departments and agencies may now resume their planning to gradually increase building occupancy, while continuing to respect the appropriate use of workplace preventive practices. It is my expectation that organizations will continue to be agile and demonstrate flexibility as necessary, in their planning to align to the evolving public health context.”

– Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

February 2022 update: guide to workplace re-entry

In the latest update in its guide to workplace re-entry for the public service, Health Canada outlined that while building occupancy can gradually be eased:

  • masks should still be worn indoors;
  • physical distancing is to be maintained;
  • departments should follow domestic and international travel advisories; and,
  • there are an updated list of screening questions for returning employees who have been exposed or infected by COVID-19.

The February 2022 update:

To support a gradual return to the workplace, departments and agencies can resume gradually increasing building occupancy with appropriate use of workplace preventive practices as laid out in this guidance. Organizations should maintain the flexibility to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

Masks:

Medical masks or respirators should be worn in all indoor shared spaces, even when physical distancing is maintained.

Medical masks or respirators should be worn outdoors when working in crowded settings or when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Travel:

Departments and agencies should follow domestic and international travel advisories.

Screening:

Screening questions have been updated to reflect updated guidance for when an employee returns to the workplace following infection or exposure to COVID-19.

The President of the Treasury Board also said there will be no, “one-size-fits-all approach” for returning to the workplace and that Treasury Board will continue to support departments, “in their transition to hybrid work models, where applicable and operationally feasible.”

The statement also said that, “officials are providing guidance and best practices to promote a coherent approach while respecting the different operational realities of federal organizations. [Departments] will continue to develop their plans, informed by their experiences of the past two years and public health guidance.”

President of the Treasury Board statement regarding the evolving public health situation

Health Canada’s guide to workplace re-entry for the public service