COVID-19 Update from the President of PAFSO for April 9, 2020

Dear Members:

As we head into what will be a long weekend for many of you, we’re still dealing with the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I continue to be proud of the excellent work be done by all of you at headquarters and in the field, as you work to help Canadians and maintain critical government operations despite your own uncertainties and concerns over friends and loved ones.

PAFSO is working hard to get you the support you need. In the past week, we’ve seen important commitments from GAC regarding the medical evacuation of Canada-Based Staff to Canada, including in instances where the person is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. GAC has also put measures in place to ensure deliveries of essential medication to staff abroad through the diplomatic bag services. Our office has dealt with individual inquiries from members on issues ranging from application of overtime provisions to early departures from post.

I also continue to take part in regular meetings with Treasury Board. This week, the Chief Human Resources Officer extended her guidance on COVID-related leave until further notice,  ensuring that code 699 available to those who need to self-isolate, who become ill from the virus, who need to care for someone else who is ill or vulnerable, and/or who need to care for children after the closure of schools or daycares.

We understand that a great deal of uncertainty still remains for everyone. Issues including this summer’s posting and assignment cycles, as well as the outcome of competitions, remain under discussion. We are advocating for as much transparency in decision-making as possible by GAC and IRCC, even ask we acknowledge that many factors are outside anyone’s control.

I’m particularly aware that those of you who have been evacuated under FSD64 still have many questions, even if you were due to return in 2020 and have been notified that you will not be returning to post. Executive Director Kim Coles and her team of Labour Relations Advisors remain available to help you with FSD64 or any other issue.

We are definitely living in strange times, and most of us, those of us who have remained in place, are finding our new circumstances unsettling. The fact that many of us will be spending the upcoming holiday weekend alone, separated from friends and family, is likely to make things even more difficult. I encourage you to make use of the resources on the Mental Health and COVID-19 for Public Servants webpage https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/covid-19/protect-mental-health.html and to consider joining one of our community check-ins, weekdays at 1030 Ottawa time (registration here:
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vJEkdeypqDIqbp_dGGwMYztuqiPP_FPuAA ) and 2000 Ottawa time on Wednesdays (registration here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vpMpc-6vqj4iSWK8CvJrXeLHod7ktzsugQ ).

Stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld
President

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