COVID-19 Update from the President of PAFSO for April 17, 2020

Dear Members:

Another week—or has it been a month?—has passed and, like all of you, your PAFSO team is still dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

In the past week, we have seen significant developments as IRCC has advised staff on its plans for the 2020 posting season. Some of you wil be disappointed by some aspects of their decision, but it does provide a certain amount of welcome clarity. As always, PAFSO’s Executive Director Kim Coles and her Labour Relations team are available to help you with your particular questions and concerns.

GAC’s approach to the postings and assignment cycle remains under active discussion at the most senior levels. We are in regular contact with senior management and continue to press for as much clarity as possible as quickly as possible. I hope to have a more substantive update to you by this time next week.

We are also working hard to make sure that all of you, especially our members in the field, get the support you need. Our office has assisted members with issues including payment of overtime and allowances to access to health care, FSD64 provisions and application of Occupational Safety and Health guidelines at missions abroad.

I continue to press the issue of relief and reinforcements for those working on the emergency response. We are aware that many of you, especially our Management Consular Officers and Readiness Program Managers, have been working extremely long hours under intense pressure and are beyond exhausted.  The Government of Canada is depending on you for not only consular services but for all aspects of its operations abroad, and you deserve appropriate support and recognition.

Our regular meetings with Treasury Board are still taking place and offer a forum for Bargaining Agents to have issues addressed at a senior level. It will also allow us to participate in the next phase of the crisis, which will involve a phased return to more normal operations and to make sure that the unique needs of the FS group are taken into account.

In preparation for these discussions with Treasury Board, IRCC and GAC, I am putting together a snapshot of the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on PAFSO members. Please take a moment over the next week to complete the linked questionnaire in English or French. Once we have gathered information on your questions and concerns, we will organize a town hall to discuss our issues in more detail. Watch this space for more detail within the next two weeks.

In the meantime, please consider joining one of our community check-ins, weekdays at 1030 Ottawa time (registration here) and 2000 Ottawa time on Wednesdays (registration here). They are a great way to connect with the community and feel a little less alone in these crazy times.

Stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld

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