Departments asked to pause return to workplace plans

By December 17, 2021COVID-19

Late yesterday, Treasury Board issued a statement saying departments were being asked to pause their return to the workplace plans for public servants out of growing concern for the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In addition, Health Canada revised their workplace re-entry guide for the public service, “in light of emerging evidence on the Omicron variant of concern, and the potential for increased transmissibility, decreased vaccine protection against infection, and higher risk of reinfection.”

Updates to the guide included recommendations that:

  • Departments should review current occupancy levels;
  • Departments should consider increasing remote work, as required;
  • All public servants receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn;
  • Public servants wear masks indoors in all shared spaces;
  • Public servants avoid non-essential international travel; and,
  • Public servants avoid participating in any discretionary large gatherings, such as conferences and training events.

The statement went on to say:

“I thank the many public servants, in various roles, who are working onsite and remotely to serve Canadians. As has been the case from the outset of the pandemic, federal public servants can be confident that every measure continues to be taken to protect their health and safety in the workplace. We know that having a vaccinated workforce means that not only are workplaces safer, so are the communities where public servants live and work.

It is my expectation that organizations continue to align their plans with the current public health context, taking into consideration their respective operational needs and obligations such as ensuring Canadians’ access to information and providing government services in both official languages.

As the heads of their organizations, deputy heads are responsible for the safety and well-being of their employees. The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to support public servants and their mental health. I would like to remind employees and managers of the wide range of services and supports available to them, including the 24/7 Employee Assistance Program.

As the country’s largest employer, the Government of Canada will continue to engage with partners, stakeholders, and local communities as we continue to operate in a rapidly changing environment.”

– Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board

Other links:

Treasury Board statement further to the evolving public health situation and the COVID-19 Omicron variant

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