Update from the President of PAFSO for February 16, 2024

Dear members,

It’s been another busy few weeks for us at PAFSO. We’ve been doing a lot of planning for the year ahead, as well as taking care of our regular business. However, as I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, we have just learned of yet another serious data breach. Let me update you on the situation.

Another data breach impacts the Foreign Service
On Sunday, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) announced to the bargaining agents that there had been a cyber incident on the computer systems of MSH International – Canada Life’s subcontractor providing coverage to employees posted abroad.

We have been told that upon discovering the incident, MSH shut down its services to protect its network and data from being further compromised. They have since hired an external cyber incident response company to assist with a prompt and safe restoration of their services. However, at this time, MSH reports that they are unable to process claims, and that members will not be able to log on to their Member Portal. TBS have assured us that MSH is still reachable by telephone.

For emergency out-of-country service, you can reach the MSH contact centre within North America at 1 833 744-2700 (toll-free). Outside North America, they can be reached at 1 1 365 337-7427 (collect). If you require a proof of coverage letter, you can call Canada Life from North America at 1 855 415-4414 (toll-free) or internationally at 1 431 489-4064 (collect).

This is the second recent occurrence of a cyber incident that directly affects our members. It was only two weeks ago that we learned of the serious data breach at Global Affairs. To say the least, this is quite concerning. This is an issue that we will be keeping a very close eye on. 

In the meantime, TBS assures us that MSH and Canada Life are working diligently to investigate the scope of this recent incident and will be sharing information as it becomes available. As always, we will keep you posted.

Questionnaire on harassment and discrimination
I’d like to remind everyone that our questionnaire on workplace harassment and discrimination in the context of world events is still open for another week. If you have not yet done so, please take a few moments to complete the questionnaire.

We have heard from some members facing difficulties in the workplace related to their personal views on the various recent conflicts around the world. And, as the organization whose primary duty is the protection and support of Foreign Service Officers in the workplace, we want to learn more about what our members are going through.

The questionnaire is relatively short and should only take you about ten minutes to complete. It asks whether you have faced situations at work that could be considered harassment or discrimination as a result of your personal opinions on world events? If so, how did these problems manifest themselves? Did you do anything about the situation? If yes, then what? And, if not, why not?

We would like everyone to respond – even if you have not been affected by these issues – as it will help us gauge how broad the impact of these conflicts has been on our community. Please note that we are not solely focussing on the events unfolding in the Middle East, you are welcome to include other information or experiences in your comments.

Also note that we our questionnaire refers to harassment and discrimination as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Follow this link to complete the questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Harassment_Discrimination

If you have already filled out the questionnaire, we thank you for your participation. If not, the questionnaire is open for one final week. You have until close of business Ottawa time on February 23, 2024, to complete it.

Moving forward with bout de papier
At PAFSO, we’re always looking at different ways to improve our flagship magazine. Not only are we always on the search for the best and most relevant articles, but we are also looking at new ways of delivering these stories to you.

Many people these days have fully transitioned to consuming media on screens. For some, though, nothing can replace the feeling of holding a magazine in their hands. We want to know: what kind of reader are you?

If you haven’t already, please take a minute to let us know how you want to enjoy future issues of bout de papier by clicking this link. It’s only a few questions and should take you less than two minutes to complete. Please answer before 5pm, Ottawa time on Friday, March 8, especially if you want to receive the print version. If we don’t hear from you by the deadline, you will receive a digital subscription as the default. If you change your mind after March 8, there will be a fee for print subscriptions. New members who join after the deadline will receive the digital version only.

PAFSO Breakfast
In this month’s edition of the PAFSO Breakfast Series, we discussed the work of our Professional Committee and what they are planning for the year ahead. If you were not able to participate, we have a recording of the session available here on the PAFSO YouTube channel.

Our next PAFSO Breakfast will take place on April 9, when Blair Cooper of Tradex will talk to us about the investment climate, just in time for tax season. You can register for the session here.

The spring edition of PAFSO’s Tradecraft series is looking for presenters
If you watch the recording of our February breakfast, you’ll see that one of the Professional Committee’s first initiatives for 2024 is to put together a spring edition of PAFSO’s Tradecraft series. The theme for this session will be “Your First Posting.” I’m sure we all remember what it was like to go off on our first posting. Well, this is a chance to share with our newest colleagues the wisdoms we have learned along the way. If you would like to share your experiences working abroad for the first time, or if you have some tips and tricks on how to prepare or what to expect, please let us know by sending an email to Marty Johnston.

Details for this event are still coming together. But once we have some firm dates, I will let you know when and how you can participate in this upcoming Tradecraft series.

That wraps things up for this week’s message. As always, if there’s anything concerning you about your situation at work, please send us an email with your name, department, and a detailed description of the issues you are facing. A member of our Labour Relations team will be happy to assist you. If there’s anything else, just email info@pafso.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

I’ll be taking some leave at the beginning of March, so my next message to you will be on March 15. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld