We’re now starting another month of dealing with the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and I wish I could say things were getting back to normal.
However, the number of cases in Canada and elsewhere continues to grow, and while there are bright spots, including the successful repatriation of tens of thousands of Canadians, the crisis is far from over. We might have crested to the top of the rollercoaster, but we’re still on the ride and we do not know what is around the next curve.
Since this crisis began, I have been proud to hear of the excellent work being done by PAFSO members in the field and at headquarters as you bring Canadians and permanent residents home, work to protect crucial supply chains, maintain important international relationships, and provide the government with the reporting and analysis that will ensure we are as ready as possible for the future.
I know that, for many of you, fatigue is setting in after weeks of long hours in extremely stressful environments, and we remain in regular contact with GAC, IRCC, and TBS to ensure that you receive the support you need. Over the past week, the PAFSO office and I have raised issues including the need for social distancing measures in critical workplaces, provisions for medical evacuation of CBS at missions abroad, the provision of Emergency Cash Parcels to facilitate contingency planning under circumstances where electronic transfers might not be feasible, and safety guidelines for staff organizing repatriation flights. I have also begun to raise the issue of relief and reinforcements for those working on the emergency response, but we are in the very early stages of that discussion.
We also understand that for those of you who have been repatriated to Canada, a great deal of uncertainty remains. I know that both GAC and IRCC are working to resolve as many situations as possible and have begun to contact those of you who were due to return to headquarters in 2020. While the fact that you will not be returning to post and will transition to relocation status as of 1 June will be disappointing, for some, I know that it will also be a relief to be able to make some concrete plans and decisions. If you have pets who have been left behind, please be assured that we have raised this issue with GAC and will be working with them to find ways to bring your four-legged family members home.
I am also happy to see that GAC has extended the provisions of FSD64 for others on evacuation status until 31 May. While I know that many of you were hoping to return to your missions sooner than that, this gives everyone a certain amount of stability for the next few weeks.
Other elements of the posting cycle, including the timing of the second round, and the start dates for confirmed assignments abroad are likely to take longer to arrange. On the headquarters side, while GAC has announced its intention to go ahead with the normal assignments and planned competitions, these are also likely to face considerable delays. While a great deal of this is due to factors that are outside anyone’s control, we will continue to advocate for as much transparency in the process as possible.
As always, Executive Director Kim Coles and her team of Labour Relations Advisors are available to help you with issues related to FSD64, working conditions, or the collective agreement.
Please continue to monitor our website and myPAFSO for the latest information as we deal with this evolving situation. And, don’t forget about our daily check-ins, Monday through Friday 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 ) for anyone who would like to connect with the community.
Stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.
All the best,