Update from the President of PAFSO for October 20, 2023

Dear members,

Before I give you a quick update on PAFSO’s ongoing activities, I want to take a moment to recognize the incredible work being done by so many members and colleagues in the face of the current Hamas–Israel conflict. Thanks to their dedication and grit, Canadians are being brought to safety, and important humanitarian and political negotiations are taking place.  

I am so proud of our colleagues in Ramallah, Tel Aviv, and neighbouring missions, as well as those in multilateral missions, who are working around the clock to make all this happen. We recognize that this work is taking place under extremely fraught and challenging circumstances and with limited and even diminishing resources. I want you all to know that your efforts are not going unnoticed, and that PAFSO is working to get you the support you need in order to do your important work. We’re all wishing for a speedy resolution of this crisis and, most of all, that everyone stays as safe as possible.

There are a few items I need to update you on, but the biggest event on the horizon is, of course, this Monday’s AGM.

The 2023 AGM
PAFSO’s 58th Annual General Meeting is taking place this Monday October 23, at 4pm, Ottawa time. This will be a virtual meeting via Microsoft Teams. To participate, please email us with your name and department, and we will send you the Teams meeting invitation as well as links to the relevant documents. Please note that you will need to register at least an hour before the meeting starts to be sure you will have access to the session.

The AGM is the best opportunity to discuss the work that has been done in 2023, and to get a feel for what lies ahead for 2024. And the virtual platform is the best way to ensure that colleagues outside the National Capital Region have a chance to participate. In preparation for the meeting, we have made available the various relevant reports on our initiatives and programs, our audited financial statements as well as the 2024 budget here on our site. I hope to see you there.

Directly following the meeting, we will announce the winner of our second annual Randy Orr Memorial Award for volunteer service to the FS community. The target start time for the informal ceremony is 1745, so please plan to stay with us to hear about the inspiring work of our community members. If this ceremony will be anything like last year, it’s sure to be quite moving.

Withdrawal of staff from India
Yesterday, Minister Joly confirmed that Canada had withdrawn 42 Canadian staff and their dependents from India after the Indian government revoked their diplomatic immunity. PAFSO has been working to assist these colleagues as they deal with the abrupt endings to their assignments and the associated disruptions to their professional and personal lives. If you have been affected by this situation and need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office via info@pafso.com.

PIMI – PAFSO’s Indigenous Mentorship Initiative
As mentioned last week, our Indigenous Mentorship Initiative is well under way, and the first information sessions for possible mentees took place this week. Click here to view a recording of the session. You can also get more information on the PIMI here on our website.

PAFSO Breakfast with Professor Raywat Deonandan
This past Tuesday, I was pleased to be joined by Professor Raywat Deonandan of the University of Ottawa, who gave us an update on this next phase of the COVID-19. What always amazes me about Professor Deonandan’s analysis of the pandemic is that it is so comprehensive, yet still so accessible. And this last time was no different. If you were unable to attend, don’t worry, we have a recording of the session available here on our YouTube channel.

bout de papier
I just wanted to remind everyone that PAFSO’s flagship magazine, bout de papier, is looking for writers! We’re seeking out compelling pieces, either fiction or non-fiction, closely tied to diplomacy and international relations and we pay $200–$500 per submission. You can consult our updated submission guidelines here. Email your article ideas to boutdepapier@pafso.com.

The new PAFSO website
Well, it’s finally live. Our new website just launched this past weekend. Hopefully, it will be a more efficient tool to provide our members to the information they need, clear answers to their important questions and a direct line to our office.

As with any project of this size, there are always a few kinks to iron out, so if you find anything we have missed, be sure to let us know so we can address it as quickly as possible.

Application of our collective agreement
Finally, a reminder that as you navigate the increasingly challenging environment facing the FS group, the provisions of our collective agreement, especially those for overtime and standby pay, continue to apply. Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned of more than one senior manager telling employees that PAFSO members had agreed to claim less overtime under the new collective agreement, which is simply not the case. If you are required to work extra hours, or to be on call and available to work at a moment’s notice, you must be compensated. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you are being told otherwise.

That wraps things up for this message. As always, if there’s anything concerning you about your situation at work, just reach out to us. Send us an email with your name, department, and a detailed description of the issues you are facing. You will be connected to one of our Labour Relations Advisors who will be happy to assist you. For all other questions, just email info@pafso.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Over the past few months, PAFSO members have been dealing with a succession of crises, from the situations in Sudan and India to the current crisis in the Middle East. Between now and my next message in two weeks, my thoughts will be with all our colleagues and their families working and living in these challenging situations.

In the meantime, if you want my take on current issues, politics, and anything else newsworthy that impacts on our profession, follow me at @PafsoPresApase.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld