Update from the President of PAFSO for March 15, 2024

Dear members,

As you know, I’ve been on leave for the last few weeks. I just got back a few days ago, and I’m still trying to catch up on what’s been going on in the last little while, including with our ongoing issues like the MSH situation, the FSDs, and preparations for the launch of our triennial survey. So, this message will be rather brief and focussed on quick updates and events. There are, however, a few things I thought I should let you know about.

bout de papier
The latest hard copies of bout de papier were just delivered to our offices a few days ago. Our staff is currently working on distribution to those of you who opted to receive the paper version, so your copy is on its way. But, for those who can’t wait, you can enjoy the latest issue online at boutdepapier.ca.

Our magazine is continuing its expansion into the digital world, and this latest issue is the first to be entirely available online. Not only can you enjoy all the articles on any device, wherever you are in the world, but you can also download a PDF version of the issue.

We hope that these improvements to bout de papier will 1) make our magazine available to more readers; 2) simplify and encourage the sharing articles; and 3) begin to build up a digital archive of our stories.

And, as always, bout de papier is constantly looking for great story ideas. So, if you think you have an interesting tale to tell about life as a professional Foreign Service Officer, please send the editorial board your ideas at bdp_editor@pafso.com.

New FAQ on union dues
Last year, PAFSO signed a new collective agreement with Treasury Board. This included our new rates of pay. This July 1, the dues we pay to PAFSO will be adjusted accordingly. Because the subject of union dues can be a little confusing, we have put together a comprehensive FAQ on the subject. It’s a short and concise read that clearly explains what dues are, how the amounts are determined, how they are collected, and what to do if you feel errors have been made.  It also makes clear what you can expect from the upcoming July 1 adjustment. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Update on the Deborah Chatsis Indigenous Scholarship
Since 2021, PAFSO has been partnering with AMBCanada on their scholarship initiative, named after former member Deborah Chatsis. Deborah was one of the first Indigenous women to join the Foreign Service and served as a two-time Ambassador. Sadly, Deborah passed away in 2022, shortly after becoming a member of the Order to Canada.

I am pleased to report that thanks to your contributions, the scholarship has been a great success. Over the past four years, with matching gifts from Carleton University, we have raised $108,000. Last year the University endowed the scholarship by creating an actively managed pooled investment fund, with a current payout rate of 4.0%, calculated on a four-year moving average. A $100,000 endowed gift will make approximately $4,000 available every year to a selected student or students since the fund can now support up to two recipients. Thanks to GAC’s support, the recipient will also have the opportunity for an internship at the Canadian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

The 2023–24 winner, Makenzie O’Quinn, from Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia), graduated from Acadia University in Biology and Sociology with a Golden A Award and a University Medal. Makenzie worked as a native student advisor as well as a Parliamentary Liaison Officer for the Irish Embassy. He is now completing his Masters of International Affairs in international development policy at NPSIA.

We believe the scholarship’s growth will increase the number of Indigenous Students engaged in international affairs and help ensure that Indigenous people are properly represented in Canada’s Foreign Service. AMBCanada AND PAFSO will continue to encourage further donations from our members on November’s “Giving Tuesday”. 

AMBCanada Catalyste+ Webinar
Our friends at AMBCanada have asked me to extend to you their invitation to a special webinar taking place this coming Wednesday March 20 at 2pm, Ottawa time. It will feature a presentation from Catalyste+, formerly known as the Canadian Executive Service Overseas (CESO). Join Wendy Harris, President and CEO, and former GAC colleagues, Suzanne Laporte and Darren Schemmer for a discussion on how to harness the power of volunteerism to create meaningful and sustainable impacts at home and across the world.  So, if you are looking for an interesting volunteer opportunity, Catalyste+ is looking for people with exactly our kind of skills and experience. Click here to learn more about Catalyste+, the presentation, as well as all the registration details.

PAFSO Breakfast with the Labour Relations Team on 27 March
The recent arrival of a few new PAFSO members has made us realize that some of you might not be aware of the many ways our expert Labour Relations Advisors can help you in navigating your relationship with the Employer. Whether you are a relatively new recruit, or an experienced member interested in knowing more about how the team engages on issues from the Foreign Service Directives to harassment and discrimination, please join me, our General Manager Bertrand Myre, and his team at 0930 on Wednesday, 27 March for what promises to be an interesting discussion.  (Please note the slightly later start time than usual for this event.)

You can register for the session here.

PAFSO Breakfast with Tradex on April 9
And, finally, here’s a reminder that the following PAFSO Breakfast will take place on April 9 at 0900, Ottawa time. Just in time for tax season, I will be joined by Blair Cooper from Tradex who will talk to us about the current investment climate. Use this link to sign up for the session.

I also wanted to mention that we’ve been keeping a pretty good archive of our PAFSO Virtual breakfasts here on the PAFSO YouTube channel. So, if you missed any, or are simply curious about what topics we’ve covered, click here and check out the nearly 30 videos in our PAFSO Breakfasts playlist.

So that wraps up what I have for you now. If there’s anything causing you concern at work, please send us an email with your name, department, and a detailed description of the issues you are facing. You will be put in touch with one of our Labour Relations Advisors who will be happy to assist you. For everything else, just email info@pafso.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

We’ll chat again in two weeks. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld