The COVID-19 pandemic is worrisome for us all, especially those who are ill, have potentially been exposed to someone who is ill, or care for someone who is vulnerable. PAFSO, along with the other federal Bargaining Agents, has been assessing the situation daily and following the science-based recommendations from all levels of government.
Accordingly, we have joined 17 other bargaining agents in calling on the Employer to follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) guidelines on implementing social distancing and self-isolation in order to “flatten the curve” and mitigate the risks associated with a widespread viral outbreak.
We have asked that employees of all departments and agencies, including Global Affairs Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, be encouraged to proactively self-isolate, and that everyone who is able to telework should be encouraged to do so. Those who are not able to telework, but who are self-isolating in accordance with PHAC guidelines, should not be forced to use leave or go without pay if they are unable to work. We believe these principles should apply to all work units, including missions abroad.
We are applying these principles to our own PAFSO office by working to limit travel and exposure in general. PAFSO-related activities will be held virtually where possible. Our employees who are able to work from home will be doing so, although some staff may need to come to the office for specific purposes.
During this time, the PAFSO office team and I are committed to supporting members and will continue to be available by email and phone. I will continue to attend relevant meetings with the employer on COVID-19 and other issues, and our Labour Relations Team will remain on the job to assist you with any difficulties related to collective agreement, Foreign Service Directives, or any other issues. Thankfully, due to a recent upgrade in our office IT systems, we have everything we need to remain connected and continue to work hard on your behalf.
These measures will be in place until the end of March, when we will reassess the situation and update you as required. Please continue to monitor your e-mail and this website for further information.
I recognize that this situation is extremely difficult for many of you and invite you to reach out to me or to the PAFSO office as necessary. I also encourage you to take advantage of the services offered through your Employee Assistance Plan, and to monitor PHAC’s main information site for the latest science-based public health information.
We have also created a forum on myPAFSO for discussion of the situation and its impact on PAFSO members.
Please stay safe, and take care of yourselves and each other.