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Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (October 21, 2022)

By Shuffles

On October 21, 2022, the following changes to the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Annette Gibbons, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development, becomes Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, effective October 31, 2022.

Lawrence Hanson, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change, effective November 14, 2022.

Kevin Brosseau, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Transport Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, effective November 14, 2022.

Catherine Blewett becomes President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, in addition to her current role as Deputy Minister of Economic Development, effective November 26, 2022.

Dominic Rochon, currently Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, National and Cyber Security Branch, Public Safety Canada, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Transport, effective October 31, 2022.

Suzy McDonald, currently Assistant Secretary, Social and Cultural Sector, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, effective October 31, 2022.

Francis Trudel, currently Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, Global Affairs Canada, becomes Associate Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, effective October 31, 2022.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to congratulate Dan Costello, Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister on his upcoming retirement from the public service and thanked him for his dedication and service to Canadians.

The Prime Minister also thanked Francis McGuire, President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for his commitment and service to Canadians as he retires from the public service.

Other links:

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (October 12, 2022)

By Shuffles

On October 12, 2022, the following changes to the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

David Morrison, currently Deputy Minister of International Trade and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for the G7 Summit, becomes Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, effective October 17, 2022.

Rob Stewart, currently Deputy Minister of Public Safety, becomes Deputy Minister of International Trade, effective October 17, 2022.

Shawn Tupper, currently Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office, becomes Deputy Minister of Public Safety, effective October 17, 2022.

Kaili Levesque, currently Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Economic and Regional Development Policy, Privy Council Office, becomes Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office, effective October 17, 2022.

Valerie Gideon becomes President of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, in addition to her current role as Associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services, effective October 17, 2022.

The Prime Minister also congratulated Marta Morgan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, on her retirement from the public service. He thanked her for her dedication and service to Canadians throughout her career and wished her all the best in the future.

Other links:

Treasury Board approves new public service health care plan for 2023

By Pay, Pension and Benefits

On Monday, Treasury Board announced it approved the new federal public service health care plan (PSHCP) for 2023, following August’s announcement that an agreement on the plan had been reached between it and unions.

The new plan comes into effect July 1, 2023, and will also see the transition from Sun Life to Canada Life for the administration of the plan.

In August, Treasury Board highlighted updates to the new plan, such as:

  • increased support for mental health and well-being, including increased coverage for psychological services and an expansion of mental health service providers;
  • for the first time, coverage to be available for gender affirmation;
  • provisions to help support the accessibility needs of members and their dependants, including greater access to benefits for mobility devices such as wheelchairs and hearing aids;
  • amendments to eligibility requirements to benefit low-income and working seniors; and,
  • plan improvements for families and young people including amendments to coverage during parental and caregiving leaves and increases in coverage, such as paramedical services, mental health services and laser eye surgery.

In its statement this week, Treasury Board also provided a detailed table for public servants on the improvements and changes to the plan, which can be viewed below:

Improvements

BenefitCoverage reimbursed at 80%Details
Medical practitioners’ services
1. Registered Dietician$300 per calendar yearNew benefit
No prescription required
2. Occupational therapist$300 per calendar yearNew benefit
No prescription required
3. Lactation consultant$300 per calendar yearNew benefit
No prescription required
4. Acupuncturist$500 per calendar yearService can now be provided by acupuncturists
No prescription required
5. Nurse practitionerN/ANurse practitioners can now prescribe medical supplies and prescriptions, if authorized by their provincial or territorial government
Miscellaneous Expenses
6. Batteries for hearing aids$200 per calendar yearNew benefit
7. Injectable lubricants for joint pain and arthritis$600 per calendar yearNew benefit
Prescription required
8. Gender Affirmation$75,000 per lifetimeNew benefit
Coverage for services designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity
Medical practitioner’s services
9. Psychological services (Psychologist)$5,000 per calendar yearMental health services can now be provided across Canada by:
Psychotherapists
Social workers
Registered counsellors

Prescription not required
10. Physiotherapist$1,500 per calendar yearRemoval of member-paid corridor
Prescription not required
11. Massage therapist$500 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $300 to $500
Prescription not required
12. Osteopath$500 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $300 to $500
Prescription not required
13. Naturopath$500 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $300 to $500
Prescription not required
14. Podiatrist or chiropodist$500 per calendar yearNow includes foot care at a community nursing station
15. Nursing services$20,000 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $15,000 to $20,000
16. Electrologist$1,200 per calendar yearNo prescription required if undergoing gender affirmation
17. Speech language pathologist$750 per calendar yearAudiologists are now covered under this benefit
Prescription not required
Vision care
18. Prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses (purchase and repairs)$400 every two years starting on the odd yearIncreased benefit from $275 to $400
19. Laser eye surgery$2,000 per lifetimeIncreased benefit from $1,000 to $2,000
Drug benefit
20. Smoking cessation drugs$2,000 per lifetimeIncreased benefit from $1,000 to $2,000
Miscellaneous expenses
21. Wigs$1,500 every 5 yearsIncreased benefit from $1,000 to $1,500
22. Orthopedic shoes$250 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $150 to $250
23. Aerotherapeutic supplies$500 per calendar yearIncreased benefit from $300 to $500
24. Hearing aids$1,500 every 5 yearsIncreased benefit
25. Needles and syringes for injectable drugs$200 per calendar yearNew benefit
Prescription required to confirm medical necessity
Diabetes Management
26. Insulin jet injector$1,000 every 3 yearsIncreased benefit from $760 to $1,000
27. Continuous Glucose Monitor supplies$3,000 per calendar yearNew benefit – For Type I diabetics only
28. Diabetic monitors$700 per 5 yearsNew benefit – Eligible with or without insulin pump
29. Diabetic testing supplies$3,000 per calendar yearRemoved blood testing requirement
Durable Equipment
30. Walkers and wheelchairsNo changeNo longer restricted for use in a private residence only.
Now allows for claims for a new wheelchair within the five-year limit when a medical condition changes and requires a different type of chair.
Reimbursement will be for the amount of the new chair less the amount reimbursed for the previously claimed chair (if claimed within the same five-year period).
31. Medical monitoring devicesLimited to one every 5 yearsThe following devices are now covered:
Oxygen saturation meter
Pulse oximeter
Saturometer
Blood pressure monitor
Hospital Coverage
32. Level I$90 per dayIncreased benefit from $60 to $90
33. Level II$170 per dayIncreased benefit from $140 to $170
34. Level III$250 per dayIncreased benefit from $220 to $250
Out-of-province benefit
35. Emergency benefit while travelling$1 million per tripIncreased benefit from $500,000 to $1 million.
Out-of-province coverage for 40 consecutive days, excluding any time out of the province for business on official travel status.
36. Family Assistance Benefits$5,000 per travel emergencyAdditional $200 per day for meals and accommodations
Relief provision
37. Pensioner relief provisionN/ARelief provision to include members who retire after April 1, 2015, extended until March 31, 2025

Changes

BenefitDetails
38. Mandatory Generic Drug SubstitutionThe PSHCP will implement Mandatory Generic Drug Substitution following a 180-day legacy period commencing July 1, 2023. During the legacy period, prescribed brand name drugs will still be reimbursed at 80% of their cost. After the legacy period, all prescription drugs covered under the PSHCP will be reimbursed at 80% of the cost of the lowest-priced alternative generic drug. Exceptions will be granted based on medical necessity.
39. Prior AuthorizationA Prior Authorization system will be implemented for the PSHCP effective July 1, 2023. A Prior Authorization system is a process administered by the plan administrator where certain drugs need to be pre-approved before they are reimbursed under the PSHCP. It is an evidence-based program that will be supported by medical professionals at Canada Life, the new plan administrator as of July 1, 2023. Permanent legacy protections will be granted for members who were on prescribed drugs listed in the Prior Authorization formulary before July 1, 2023. However, members may need to switch their existing biologic drug to a biosimilar under the new system.
40. Compound DrugsThe PSHCP will implement a change to compound drug eligibility following a 180-day legacy period commencing July 1, 2023. After the legacy period, compound drugs will require one active ingredient with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) that is covered under the PSHCP, to be reimbursed.
41. Catastrophic Drug CoverageEffective July 1, 2023, eligible drug expenses will be reimbursed at 100% when out-of-pocket drug expenses incurred exceed $3,500 in a calendar year.
Pharmacy Dispensing Fees
42. Frequency LimitsEffective July 1, 2023, pharmacist dispensing fees will be reimbursed up to a maximum of five times per year for maintenance drugs. Exceptions will be granted if:

There are safety concerns with the prescribed drug (e.g. controlled substance)

There are storage limitations for the prescribed drug (e.g. requiring deep freeze temperatures)

The prescribed drug’s 3-month supply co-pay is more than $100
43. Fee CapsEffective July 1, 2023, the PSHCP will reimburse up to a maximum of $8 for the pharmacy dispensing fee. The fee cap will not apply to biologic or compound drugs.

Treasury Board said in its statement that, “more information and details will be made available shortly.”

Other links:

Treasury Board statement: Approval of a modernized Public Service Health Care Plan

Treasury Board information notice: Improvements and changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan

One-time holiday for most federal public servants: September 19, 2022

By Pay, Pension and Benefits

To mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, most federal public servants working in the core public administration will have Monday September 19, 2022 off as a one-time holiday.

A message to departments Friday from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer stated that, “Individuals who have booked leave for this day will need to make the necessary adjustments (amend or delete and re-submit) and seek approval from their managers.”

In addition, the note said, “Students, casual workers, part-time employees, and persons employed for less than three (3) months are to be compensated for the number of hours they were scheduled to work on this day.”

Read the full message below:

Date: September 16, 2022

To: Heads of Human Resources, Directors/Chiefs of Labour, Relations and Compensation, and Public Service Pay Centre

The Prime Minister announced Monday September 19, 2022, as a Day of Mourning in Canada, to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This coincides with Her Late Majesty’s State Funeral in London, to commemorate her remarkable life and dedication to service.

This Day of Mourning is a one-time holiday for all persons employed by the core public administration (CPA). It is not a Designated Paid Holiday; however, this day is to be administered pursuant to applicable authorities such as collective agreements and terms and conditions of employment.

Individuals who have booked leave for this day will need to make the necessary adjustments (amend or delete and re-submit) and seek approval from their managers.

Students, casual workers, part-time employees, and persons employed for less than three (3) months are to be compensated for the number of hours they were scheduled to work on this day.

Persons employed by the CPA who are normally eligible to receive lieu days for a Statutory holiday will be credited an additional lieu day.

If you have any questions about the Day of Mourning as it relates to the terms and conditions of employment for public servants, please do not hesitate to contact Interpretations@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Original signed by
Angelo Gatto
A/Director
Compensation Policy, Interpretations and Pay Administration
Employee Relations and Total Compensation
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer

Employees who may be unsure if they work in the core public administration or unsure if they have the 19th off are asked to please check with their manager first.

Other links:

Message from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer: Day of Mourning in Canada to Honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Open letter to employer surpasses 10k signatures

By Return to Workplace

As some departments continue to move ahead with forcing public servants back into the physical workplace, support for the open letter written by public servants against imposed hybrid return to workplace arrangements has surpassed ten thousand signatures.

The campaign “GoC Together” was launched only several weeks ago, continues to gain momentum and also recently launched a Twitter account @GoCTogether to keep followers updated on the progress of its campaign.

So far, there has been no response to the letter from any senior leader in the public service, including the Clerk.

Public servants and the media have been largely attributing the Clerk as the reason for the imposed hybrid return to replace arrangements, as the Clerk asked deputy heads to experiment with hybrid scenarios earlier this summer so they could be implemented in the fall.

Clerk’s annual report on the public service

The Clerk recently released their annual report on the public service, which highlights accomplishments across the public service over the past year, including challenges and a vision for the future.

In it, the Clerk did reference hybrid work stating, “By building on what we learned during the pandemic and blending the best of our traditions with emerging approaches, including a combination of in-person and remote work, we will create a new hybrid workplace that delivers the best results for Canadians.”

However the Clerk also concluding the report by saying, “it would be a missed opportunity if we went back to the way things were in 2019.”

Many public servants have been asking the Clerk to clarify their direction to deputies around return to workplace from earlier this summer, as public servants have been finding the Clerk’s messaging contradictory and deputies have been interpreting the Clerk’s direction that they must get public servants back into the physical workplace as soon as possible with imposed hybrid arrangements.

Training for EXs on hybrid work and teams

Meanwhile, APEX (the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada) is offering training for executives on hybrid work and teams this fall. The sessions are:

  • Hybrid work is the future of work (September 21, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST)
  • Thriving in remote and hybrid teams (September 28, 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST)
  • Leading in a hybrid workplace (October 5, 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST)
  • Everyday resiliency in ever-changing times (October 26, 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST)

EXs interested in these sessions can find the registration details here.

Heritage’s video on hybrid work spaces

A video by the department of Canadian Heritage about hybrid work spaces was recently making the rounds online:

The TikTok style video titled, “Hot Tip Tuesday: Exploring hybrid work spaces – part 1” featured public servants dancing awkwardly in the workplace to music and swirling chairs around in boardrooms with strobe party lights.

Public servants on social media were generally critical of the video and commented that it was out of touch and did not take the concerns that public servants have about their health and safety, seriously.

The video was uploaded in June and has since received over 3,000 views.

Treasury Board suspends reporting COVID-19 cases

Earlier this month, Treasury Board confirmed that as of June 22, 2022, it was suspending its reporting of COVID-19 cases within the federal public service.

Reaction from public servants online was that of frustration and concern for health and safety, given that many are being forced back into the physical workplace during cold and flu season and there will no longer be any reporting of cases.

The final total amount of reported COVID-19 cases across the public service was 32,474 since reporting began with the disclaimer that, “the total number of cases may not reflect an accurate count due to the lack of availability of tests.”

Other links:

About GoC Together

Contact GoC Together

29th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

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

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (August 26, 2022)

By Shuffles

On August 26, 2022, the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Diane Gray, currently Founding President and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc., becomes President of Prairies Economic Development Canada, effective October 31, 2022.

Arun Thangaraj, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Transport, will join the Deputy Minister team at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as Associate Deputy Minister, effective September 6, 2022.

Other links:

Treasury Board announces tentative agreement reached with unions on a renewed health care plan for 2023

By Pay, Pension and Benefits

Yesterday, Treasury Board announced an agreement had been reached between it as the employer for the federal public service and unions, as well as retiree representatives on a renewed health care plan for public servants.

If ratified, the renewed health care plan would take effect July 1, 2023.

Highlights

In its announcement, Treasury Board highlighted some of the new features in the renewed plan, such as:

  • increased support for mental health and well-being, including increased coverage for psychological services and an expansion of mental health service providers;
  • for the first time, coverage would be available for gender affirmation;
  • provisions that would help support the accessibility needs of members and their dependants, including greater access to benefits for mobility devices such as wheelchairs and hearing aids;
  • amendments to eligibility requirements that would benefit low-income and working seniors; and,
  • plan improvements for families and young people including amendments to coverage during parental and caregiving leaves and increases in coverage, such as paramedical services, mental health services and laser eye surgery.

Unions react

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)

Calling it a “victory,” PSAC said that it, “secured improvements to vision care and massage therapy benefits. Plan members will also see a major increase to psychological services, as well as an expansion of eligible psychological practitioners covered. Acupuncture will now be covered when performed by a licensed acupuncturist, and a prescription will no longer be required to access paramedical benefits like massage therapy or chiropractic treatment.

PSAC also won a significant victory to protect the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ members, increasing coverage for gender-affirming care and procedures.”

PSAC included a detailed list of benefits improvements which can be found below.

The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE)

CAPE highlighted that, “key gains were made on mental health benefits, vision care, paramedical practitioners’ coverage, gender affirmation coverage, smoking cessation drugs, miscellaneous expense benefits, premium rates while on parental and caregiving leave and more. Our members have been waiting for an agreement around the Public Service Health Care Plan for a long time and the outcome is overall positive.”

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO)

Similarly, PAFSO said, “the new agreement secures key gains for our members in the areas of mental health benefits, paramedical practitioner coverage, gender affirmation coverage, and premium rates while on parental and caregiving leave, to list but a few. It also introduces new cost-containment measures to keep pace with future PSHCP cost increases, including a prior authorization program, mandatory generic substitution and pharmacist dispensing fee caps. Also, a provision to renegotiate the plan in 4 years’ time will ensure that the plan can evolve and continue to meet the healthcare coverage needs of our members.

New administrator to take over plan

Back in December, Treasury Board announced that the next contract to administer the Public Service Health Care Plan had been awarded to Canada Life following a competitive process that began in 2018.

The contract will take effect July 1, 2023, following a transition period.

Treasury Board said that transitioning will be a, “complex project and an opportunity to streamline PSHCP processes. The new contract will allow the plan to be more responsive to the changing administrative health care needs of plan members and innovations in the health care industry.”

The previous contract was awarded to Sun Life in 2009.

Other links:

Treasury Board news release

PSAC news release

CAPE news release

PAFSO news release

Detailed list of benefits improvements:

Vision care

  • Maximum eligible amount increased to $400 every 2 years (from $275)
  • Maximum lifetime eligible amount for laser eye surgery increased to $2,000 per lifetime (from $1,000)

Paramedical practitioners

Increase annual maximum eligible amounts for:

  • Each massage therapy, osteopath, naturopath, podiatrist or chiropodist to $500 (from $300)
  • Nursing services to $20,000 (from $15,000)
  • Psychological practitioners to $5,000 (from $2,000)
  • Speech language pathologist to $750 (from $500)
  • Electrolysis to reasonable and customary amount with an annual maximum of $1,200; prescriptions waived for members receiving gender-affirming care
  • Expansion of psychological providers to include coverage for psychotherapists, social workers (for all members, regardless of place of residence), and registered counsellors
  • Remove prescription requirements for massage therapy, physiotherapy, psychological services and speech therapy
  • Audiologists to be eligible under the speech therapy category
  • New coverage for the following practitioners: dieticians, occupational therapists, and lactation consultants each at eligible maximum of $300 per year
  • Acupuncture is now eligible when performed by registered acupuncturist at eligible maximum of $500 per year
  • Foot care when done at community nursing stations, to be covered under the podiatrist/chiropodist amount
  • Physiotherapy: Removal of $500-$1,000 member-paid corridor, with new annual eligible maximum of $1,500

Hospital and emergency coverage

  • Level 1 for the baseline coverage for hospitalization to increase to $90 per day (from $60)
    • Level 2 and 3 rates to increase $30 each: $170 for level 2 and $250 for level 3
  • Out-of-country coverage to be for 40 days, exclusive of periods of work. Coverage to be at $1M per trip (from $500,000)
  • Family Assistance benefits overall maximum to increase to $5,000 (from $2,500)
    • Daily allowance for meals and accommodations under family assistance benefits to increase to $200 per day (from $150)

Drug coverage

  • Smoking cessation drugs increase to $2,000 per life (from $1,000)

Miscellaneous expense benefits

Increase maximum eligible amounts for:

  • Orthopedic shoes to $250 per year (from $150)
  • Insulin jet injector device to $1,000 every 36 months (from $760)
  • CPAP supplies to $500 per year (from $300)
  • Hearing aids to $1,500 every 60 months (from $1,000)
  • Wigs to $1,500 every 60 months (from $1,000)
  • Introduce coverage for injectable synovial fluid to treat joint pain and arthritis (e.g., Synvisc) to an eligible maximum of $600 per year
  • Allow claims for a new wheelchair within the existing 5-year time limit where a patient’s medical condition changes such that s/he requires a different type of wheelchair. The maximum eligible claim for the new wheelchair will be reduced by any amount reimbursed for other wheelchair purchases in the previous 5 years
  • Delete requirement that walkers and wheelchairs must be for use inside the patient’s private residence
  • Introduce coverage for needles for injectable drugs, not just diabetes, to a maximum of $200 per year
  • Introduce coverage for hearing aids batteries of up to $200 per year separate from the increased amount for hearing aids

Coverage for diabetic conditions

  • Introduce coverage for diabetic monitors without use of insulin pump, to a maximum of $700 per 60 months
  • Introduce coverage for continuous glucose monitor supplies (type I diabetics) at $3,000 per year
  • Introduce coverage for other diabetic testing supplies (for type II diabetics) such as flash glucose supplies and testing strips to a maximum of $3,000 per year
  • Remove reference to “blood” glucose monitors

Other benefit amendments

  • Gender affirmation coverage – enhanced coverage at lifetime eligible maximum of $75,000
  • Introduce coverage for medically necessary monitors including Oxygen Saturation Meter, Pulse Oximeter, Saturometer, Blood Pressure Monitor (once every 60 months each)
  • Allow nurse practitioners to provide prescriptions for nursing coverage or medical supplies, provided it is in their scope of practice

Amendments to retirement benefits

  • Relief provisions to be extended for retired members who retire after 2015 at the same level to those who retired before 2015 (i.e., if eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, only 25% of premiums are payable)
  • Retirees with six (6) years of service are eligible for retiree benefits, even if all 6 years are not pensionable due to age
  • Anyone returned to work after retirement shall not lose access to their retiree benefits once they retire again

Amendments to coverage during leaves and other definitions

  • Coverage at regular premium rates for the full period of parental leave and any period of caregiving leave
  • Definition of common law spouse amended to remove the requirement that one must publicly represent themselves as spouses

Amendments to drug coverage and pharmacist fees

  • Implementation of a Mandatory Generic Substitution with a 180-day legacy period. Exceptions will only be based on medical necessity
  • Implementation of a system of prior authorization for high-cost drugs. Such approval for drugs will be granted using an evidence-based model. All members will be fully legacied with the exception that they may be required to switch their existing biologic drug to a biosimilar
  • Reimbursement of pharmacist fees will be capped at a maximum of five times per year for each maintenance drug prescribed. Exceptions will be made for safety or storage or where a member’s co-pay for a 3-month supply of a given drug is more than $100
  • Reimbursement of pharmacy dispensing fees will be capped at $8 per fee. This limit does not apply to biologic drugs or compounded drugs
  • Compound drugs will only be covered where at least one active ingredient has a DIN and would otherwise be covered, subject to a 180-day legacy period
  • Increase to the out-of-pocket maximum for catastrophic drug coverage will increase to $3,500 (from $3,000)

Support for no imposed hybrid return to workplace continues to gain traction

By Return to Workplace

It’s a growing situation: public servants becoming increasingly frustrated and vocal over the pressure and rush to put in place telework agreements for forced hybrid work arrangements.

But where is the pressure and rush coming from?

Clerk faces criticism

Public servants and the media have been largely attributing the Clerk as the reason for the pressure, who asked deputy heads to experiment with hybrid scenarios earlier this summer so they could be implemented in the fall.

As a result, deputies have been putting pressure on employees to put in place telework agreements for hybrid work arrangements and have taken this to mean that there must be mandatory minimum days spent in the physical office per week for each employee, all the while without meaningful consultation and input from public servants.

Meanwhile unions have been vocal in the media about their disagreement that this has been rushed and they haven’t been consulted, and top doctors such as the medical officer for the City of Ottawa reiterating that we are in a 7th wave of COVID-19, key indicators are on the rise, and it’s time to take this wave seriously.

Public servants react

Through all of this, public servants have said they do not feel safe.

In an open letter published to their employer last week, they asked that a hybrid arrangement not be imposed on all public servants but rather let each employee, “in discussion with their respective managers, choose the work configuration that best suits their work objectives.”

Support for the letter has garnered over 3,500 signatures in mere days.

Calls for the Clerk to clarify

In discussion threads on social media over the weekend, public servants asked the Clerk to clarify their comments to deputies in writing and ease the pressure to hastily put in place forced hybrid arrangements for the fall which is only weeks away.

They also pointed out contradictions in the Clerk’s messaging between their last annual report on the public service which frequently referenced the unprecedented productivity of public servants throughout the pandemic, working “tirelessly” and “sacrificially” but yet the Clerk has been in a rush to get public servants back into the workplace arguably for optics over facts and meaningful consultations and input from public servants.

“The pandemic has provided insights into the future of how we could work. We can achieve permanent and productive change, if we are determined to identify and exploit those insights. A big question going forward is which practices will we decide to keep and which will we return to. As the pressure eases, and in time it will, the natural inclination will be to “snap back” to our previous state. That should not happen.”

Clerk of the Privy Council, 28th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service

IRCC reportedly puts hybrid on hold

Over the weekend, public servants have been posting online that some groups at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) were reportedly informed recently that hybrid return to workplace plans have been put on hold following concerns from public servants.

Public servants commended IRCC for its leadership and wondered if other departments will soon follow suit.

Sign the letter

For those who may be interested, the letter can be signed here.

The letter does not ask for anyone to identify themselves, only a confirmation that they are an employee of the Government of Canada and that they support the letter.

GoC Together also invites public servants to share their stories around return to the workplace with them.

Other links:

About GoC Together

Contact GoC Together

28th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

Public servants issue open letter to employer regarding return to workplace

By Return to Workplace

As the medical officer for Ottawa continues to reiterate that we’re in the 7th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, key indicators are on the rise, and it’s time to take this wave seriously, some federal departments, despite this, have been forging ahead with their return to workplace plans for federal public servants by rushing to put telework agreements in place for hybrid work scenarios.

And while almost everyone has offered their own hot takes about federal public servants returning to the workplace such as city Mayors, pundits, businesses, the media, and politicians, a coalition of federal public servants are now putting their own perspective forward in an open letter to their employer.

Under the umbrella, “GoC Together,” the coalition has launched a website where the open letter can be found and a call to action for all public servants to sign the letter if they agree with it.

Titled, “An open letter to the Government of Canada regarding the future of remote work for federal public servants,” the letter has already acquired over 2,000 signatures.

“Tone-deaf, out of touch” senior management perspectives

Over the summer, several departments have held department-wide town halls where return to workplace was discussed with “tone-deaf, out of touch” messaging from senior management frustrating public servants.

At the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), one Director spoke about the benefits of return to workplace from their perspective which included the importance of supporting minimum wage workers such as those at the restaurant chain, Subway.

Reaction by public servants at PHAC was swift, who criticized the Director’s example. Criticism was so strong, other senior managers from PHAC defended the director on social media which led to comments like this:

The Deputy Minister also had to issue an email to all-staff about the criticism online.

At Global Affairs Canada, return to workplace was also covered at a town hall there with the Associate Deputy Minister sharing they found cycling and public transit too frustrating so they bought a car.

The Associate Deputy Minister’s comments were also referred to as “out of touch” with the concerns of most public servants around their health, safety and return to the workplace.

The open letter being aligned with the Clerk’s 2021 annual report on the public service

In the Clerk’s most recent annual report on the public service, the Clerk identified three main points:

  • anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the public service;
  • the health and well-being of public servants over the last year; and,
  • the future of the public service and an acknowledgement that things will never go back to the way they were before COVID-19.

These three points support and correspond directly to the arguments that public servants have been making about their preferences around return to the workplace.

On anti-racism, equity and inclusion, public servants who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have shared online that the return to the physical office does not evoke a sense of unity and inclusion for them but rather is a reminder that they are intentionally excluded and don’t feel safe.

As well, public servants who have expressed support for the letter said that remote work has also meant more opportunities and more inclusiveness for those across the country:

The letter directly addresses health and well-being of public servants which the Clerk raised:

“We want the opportunity to establish a harmonious work-life balance. One that simultaneously promotes productivity and personal well-being. We want to be treated respectfully. This not only means being heard, but also having our opinions taken into consideration in a meaningful way. Perhaps most of all, we want the freedom to choose the way we work. Each of us is intimately aware of our responsibilities and the environment that is most conducive to our optimal performance. Our commitment to serve the public is unwavering. Trust us to do our jobs the best way we can.”

The letter ends with a request to not impose a hybrid arrangement on all public servants but rather let each employee, “in discussion with our respective managers, choose the work configuration that best suits our work objectives” and invites public servants to contact their union and Member of Parliament.

Sign the letter

For those who may be interested, the letter can be signed here.

The letter does not ask for anyone to identify themselves, only a confirmation that they are an employee of the Government of Canada and that they support the letter.

GoC Together also invites public servants to share their stories around return to the workplace with them.

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About GoC Together

Contact GoC Together

Changes announced to the senior ranks of the public service (July 8 and 15, 2022)

By Shuffles

On July 15, 2022, the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Terence Hubbard, currently Acting President of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, is appointed as President, effective July 28, 2022, for a term of five years.

Kenneth MacKillop, currently Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Communications and Consultations), Privy Council Office, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective July 25, 2022.

As well, on July 8, 2022, the following changes in the senior ranks of the public service were announced:

Christiane Fox, currently Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services, becomes Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, effective July 18, 2022.

Caroline Xavier, currently Associate Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, becomes Chief of the Communications Security Establishment, effective August 31, 2022.

Gina Wilson, currently Deputy Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth, becomes Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services, effective July 18, 2022.

Erin O’Gorman, currently Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board, becomes President of the Canada Border Services Agency, effective July 18, 2022.

Frances McRae, currently Chief Administrative Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, becomes Deputy Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth, effective July 18, 2022.

Scott Harris, currently Vice-President, Intelligence and Enforcement, Canada Border Services Agency, becomes Associate Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, effective July 18, 2022.    

Dominique Blanchard, currently Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, COVID-19 Coordination, Privy Council Office, becomes Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board, effective July 18, 2022.

Cliff Groen, currently Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Benefits and Integrated Services, Service Canada, becomes Business Lead, Benefits Delivery Modernization, Employment and Social Development Canada, effective July 18, 2022.         

Benoît Long, currently Chief Transformation Officer, Service Canada, becomes Senior Official at the Privy Council Office, effective July 18, 2022.

As well, “the Prime Minister also congratulated John Ossowski, former President of the Canada Border Services Agency, and Catrina Tapley, former Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who have retired from the Public Service, as well as Shelly Bruce, Chief of the Communications Security Establishment, on her upcoming retirement. He thanked them for their dedication and service to Canadians throughout their careers and wished them all the best in the future.”

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