I’m both grateful and excited to begin my new term as President of PAFSO. Although I’ve been your full-time President on a pilot basis since 2019, this new term makes me the first to serve under the constitutional provisions that came into effect at the end of 2021.
The membership’s decision to support these amendments, which make the presidency a permanent part of PAFSO’s governance structure, marked the end of nearly five years of sustained effort by your Executive Committee under our Strategic Review and Strategic Plan. A permanent full-time presidency means that the professional Foreign Service will always have sustained, strong representation by a serving FS who understands both the role and the sacrifices associated with this career.
As your President, I remain responsible for representing you at various fora, including the National Joint Council and labour-management consultation committees, and with the media and other external stakeholders. I also chair the Executive Committee, guide the execution and evaluation of our Strategic Plan, and will lead the development of the next one beginning next year. Now that we have dealt with the principal governance elements of the plan, we will turn our attentionto increasing our advocacy and stakeholder engagement efforts to ensure that our members, and our profession, get the respect and support they deserve.
Our efforts must take into account the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly affected the Foreign Service. The current negotiations for our new Collective Bargaining Agreement, along with the upcoming cyclical review of the Foreign Service Directives, offer us the opportunity to ensure that our members are adequately compensated, protected, and recognized as they undertake the difficult work of serving Canada and Canadians at home and abroad.
Although the pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us, shifting to a virtual model for PAFSO events and increasing our e-communications efforts has allowed us to connect with a broader cross-section of members abroad and develop a better sense of the issues you face. I am committed to enhancing our community engagement capacity to make sure all of us, from your Executive Committee to our dedicated PAFSO staff, are addressing your needs and concerns.
Being a Foreign Service officer is not just a job but a calling that extends well outside regular business hours. The fact that we are not just allowed but required to serve abroad and represent Canada 24/7 affects our own lives and those of our spouses, children, and even our pets. As your President, it is my duty to ensure that the reality of Foreign Service life is properly understood so we can serve Canada, and Canadians, to the best of our abilities.