Message from Treasury Board President to Public Servants About Mental Health

By Mental Health

Today, the President of the Treasury Board issued the following message to public servants about mental health, following the recently published 2020 Public Service Employee Survey results:

Just over a year ago, our daily routines were turned upside down. From one day to the next, many started teleworking while others continued serving Canadians on the front lines. We were facing the unknown. But, as public servants, you did not hesitate to deal with the many challenges and obstacles related to the pandemic. You delivered the goods so that Canadians could get the programs and services they needed to get through this pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has entered its second year, many of us have seen its effects on our physical and mental well-being. I would like to take this opportunity to say that we understand the toll this reality has taken on your mental health and that of your friends and families.

The recently released results of the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) reflect this reality. They point to higher stress levels among public servants due to the emotional toll and increased workloads caused by the pandemic. At the same time, I am encouraged that the results prove that supportive leadership, good communication and enhanced flexibility helped to maintain employees’ overall mental health. It can be difficult to find a work-life balance as we face the challenges of working from home while working hard to protect our loved ones and Canadians from the effects of this pandemic.

I would like to emphasize the importance of public service leaders continuing to create a safe and welcoming environment for their employees to talk confidently about their mental health and get the help they need. I would also like to remind everyone that departmental employee assistance programs are always there for support.

Over the past year, we have faced considerable challenges, both collectively and individually. To meet these challenges, we have fortunately been able to rely on a public service whose level of professionalism is recognized as one of the highest in the world. Over the past year, it has served our citizens when they needed it most. Members of the public service can be proud of the work they have done. As we look forward to better days ahead and to turning an important page in this pandemic, I want to assure you that we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that public servants have all the mental health supports they need. 

– Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board, May 27, 2021

Other links:

Message to Employees on Mental Health

Highlights from the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey Results

By PSES 2020

Yesterday, Treasury Board published a summary of the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey results.

While the summary highlighted some positive results such as public servants having generally felt supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, the results indicated still a lot of work needs to be done around racism, discrimination, harassment, rising work-related stress, and resolving Phoenix pay issues in the public service.

Interim Clerk Janice Charette tweeted:

“I encourage all departments to review their #PSES_SAFF results closely. Public servants have shared their perspectives and stated what needs to be addressed next. Now it’s time to take action to strengthen our proud public service.”

The summary was broken down into the following categories:

  • Workplace well-being during the COVID‑19 pandemic
  • Employee engagement
  • Leadership
  • Workforce
  • Workplace
  • Compensation

On racism in the public service, only:

10% of employees who had experienced discrimination based on race indicated that they felt satisfied with how concerns or complaints about racism in the workplace were resolved in their department or agency.

On harassment in the public service:

Individuals with authority (62%) and co-workers (48%) were the most frequently cited sources of harassment.

On discrimination in the public service, out of the 7% of employees who indicated that they had been the victim of discrimination on the job in the previous 12 months:

Race (28%), sex (27%), and age (26%) were the most common types of discrimination experienced.

On pay issues in the public service, over a third of responses said they were still having Phoenix-related pay issues in the year 2020:

Over a third of employees (37%) indicated that their pay or other compensation had been affected by issues with the Phoenix pay system in the previous 12 months. Of those employees, 37% indicated that their issues had been resolved.

On work-related stress, employees expressed experiencing higher work-related levels of stress in 2020 compared to the previous year:

18% of employees indicated that they had high or very high levels of work-related stress, up from 17% in 2019.

31% of employees indicated that they felt emotionally drained after their workday, up from 29% in 2019.

The top 2 sources of stress at work:

Heavy workload (26%), up from 24% in 2019.
Not enough employees to do the work (26%), down from 29% in 2019.

Despite work-related stress levels up from the previous year, public servants were generally satisfied with how the public service was supporting their mental and physical health, and overall well-being during COVID-19:

81% of employees indicated that they were satisfied with the measures their department or agency was taking to protect their physical health and safety during the pandemic.

84% of employees felt that their department or agency was effectively communicating the mental health services and resources that were available to them.

70% of employees indicated that senior managers in their department or agency were taking adequate steps to support their mental health during the pandemic.

311,684 public servants were invited to participate in the survey and a little more than half, 188,786 surveys were received. This was the equivalent to a 61% response rate, which was down 1% from 2019.

Read the rest of the highlights from Treasury Board in the link below.

Other links:

Highlights: 2020 Public Service Employee Survey Results Summary