COVID-19 Update from the President of PAFSO for May 29, 2020

Dear members:

As we enter the long-term phase of the COVID crisis and response, you’re no doubt wondering when we can get back to something resembling normal, and what that will look like over the short term.

At our National Joint Council task force meetings, we’ve begun to talk about the “next normal” and are starting to get a clearer picture of what a safe return to the workplace will look like.  Obviously, the approach at first will have to be iterative—we have worked too hard and sacrificed too much for an impulsive rush to set us back.

We are now at a point where much of the work involves the careful review of the planning guidance by our experts. Overall, the bargaining agents are satisfied with how their concerns are being incorporated into TBS’ plans. The question of 699 leave and a few other specific technical issues are to be dealt with separately. Bertrand Myre, one of our Labour Relations Officers, is taking part in the working group concerned with off-site workplaces. This is of particular interest to PAFSO given the number of our members on secondment, exchanges, or otherwise operating in workplaces or work sites not overseen by the federal government.

Although we are pleased that the Employer has indicated that those who are able will be encouraged to work from home as the default, we know that this is not an option that is available to all of our members. At Tuesday’s National Labour Management Consultative Committee meeting, I took the opportunity to express PAFSO’s concern about our MCO colleagues and received assurances that the Deputies are working on a plan to bring relief to this exhausted segment of our membership.

I know many of you have some mounting concerns as we edge forward to the “next normal” and begin to gauge what it will mean for our individual lives and careers. As always, feel free to contact Executive Director Kim Coles with your questions on the return to the workplace, FSDs, or any other labour relations issue and she will connect you to one of our labour relations advisors who will gladly assist you. And if there is anything else you might need help with, or if you have any other questions, just email

The shift in the COVID response towards analysis and planning is allowing PAFSO to shift some of its attention to other pressing issues. We were pleased to see the last round of appointments made in the International Assistance Stream and want to ensure that these new colleagues are properly integrated into the PAFSO community. To that end, Emily Alexander, our FSIA Vice President, is putting together a task force on FSIA integration, and is seeking volunteers from all streams. Please contact us if you are interested in participating.

In support of the task force, we have put together a short confidential survey  and would appreciate it if FSIA members could take 5 minutes out of your day to take the survey and tell us a little bit about yourselves, your concerns at work, and what you expect from your union and professional association.

Finally, many thanks to those of you who have come forward to be part of the working group on the revamp and renewal of our iconic Bout de Papier. If you would still like to join, please don’t forget to drop me an e-mail by close of business today. I will be in touch with the volunteers in the next couple of weeks to discuss the way forward.

Please don’t forget that, if you wish to connect with the PAFSO community, there’s always our daily virtual coffee check-ins: every weekday at 1030 and Wednesday evenings at 2000 Ottawa time.

Take care of yourselves and each other. We’ll chat next week.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld

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