COVID-19 Update from the President of PAFSO for April 24, 2020

Dear Members:

As we end another week of dealing with the effects of COVID-19, I’m happy to report some significant developments.

Global Affairs Canada has now joined IRCC in making some decisions about the 2020 posting season. Although some of you will be disappointed by their decision to ask staff who were due to leave their postings this summer to stay another year, it does provide a certain amount of clarity.

We understand that many questions remain, and we are working with senior management to get answers as soon as possible. We have identified issues including  the criteria for determining which positions are “essential” or “programme essential,” the procedure for obtaining medical clearance to return to mission after being medically evacuated under FSD64, and the effects of the extensions on language training and regional offices. Please send any questions you would like us to forward to GAC to info@pafso.com. If you need advice on your situation, please do not hesitate to contact Executive Director Kim Coles.

PAFSO is also aware that many of you, especially members of our MCO community, have been working under tough conditions for a long time and might not wish to stay at their current missions for another year. We will be pressing both GAC and IRCC to ensure that officers do not face undue pressure to extend and to support all necessary departures and moves as much as possible. Our main goal is to ensure that your health and safety, including your psychological well-being, is at the core of these processes.

We are also about to begin a discussion with the Human Resources, Consular, Platform and Geographic branches on ways we can support MCOs and others working on the emergency response. Although we know that all of you are dealing with difficult and stressful conditions, we are particularly concerned about the MCO community, which was facing chronic staffing and workload issues before the crisis began.  Keely Hunter and Bronson Borst, your MCO representatives on our Executive Committee, are working to consolidate your views for presentation to management. If you have suggestions you would like to share, please e-mail them to info@pafso.com.

Regular meetings with Treasury Board continue to take place and provide an opportunity to ensure that the needs of the professional Foreign Service, such as revised guidance to the Occupational Health and Safety guidance for missions, are taken into account at the most senior level. Next week, we expect to hear from the TBS planning team that is laying the groundwork for an eventual return to normal operations across the federal public service.

Your answers to our snapshot questionnaire have already been helpful laying the groundwork for these discussions, and for our advocacy and planning. If you have not already done so, please take a moment between now and noon on Friday, 1 May, to fill it in. You can find it in English here and in French here. Your answers will help us prepare for our upcoming virtual town hall, which we are tentatively planning for the week of 4 May (details to follow next week).

In the meantime, please don’t forget to register for one of our virtual coffee check-ins, weekdays at 1030 Ottawa time and every Wednesday at 2000 Ottawa time.

Take care of yourselves and each other, and have a good weekend.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld
President


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