Easing of restrictions at worksites

ECCC’s approach will be prudent, gradual and phased, and will be consistent with the broader government-wide approach. Things will not happen suddenly. As a general guide, employees asked to return to worksites will be given three weeks’ notice. All appropriate measures to ensure employee health and safety will be taken. This is our top priority.

Our plans will be based on government-wide guidance from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) for safety procedures in the workplace, which include requirements on physical distancing, face covering, and cleaning procedures and which take into consideration the local public health situation and the nature of our work, in our offices, laboratories, doing fieldwork, or inspections.

Increasing access to worksites

In the first phase, we will consider staff who cannot perform their work remotely and whose health can be adequately protected, starting with most critical functions. We will also look at seasonal technical work and other outdoor activities where there are limited numbers of people, such as wildlife centres. As one example, following a detailed planning effort, on June 1, we began the phased reopening of our national wildlife areas.

We are committed to learning from these initial experiences and to applying lessons before increasing access further at worksites.

Health Self-Assessment

Employees are encouraged to self-assess for symptoms of COVID-19, using Health Canada’s online self-assessment tool.

Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not enter the workplace and should inform their manager so that proper protocols can be followed as needed.

Non-medical masks

Many provinces and municipalities across Canada have mandated the wearing of non-medical masks in public spaces. For this reason, we recommend that if you get approval to enter an ECCC building, you should always have a mask on hand.

The department is currently considering its policy on the use of non-medical masks in the workplace. ECCC’s approach will be guided by central agencies, provincial and local governments, as well as consultations with bargaining agents and Operational Health and Safety committees.

When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of his or her own infectious respiratory droplets. Find out more on the Non-medical masks and face coverings page.

Working remotely

Remote work will continue to be an important part of our operating reality, and we are committed to supporting employees whether physically in the workplace or at home.

As a department, we have increased VPN access, implemented MS Teams, put directives in place on the purchase of equipment to support remote work, and we will continue to innovate and adapt to meet our needs.

Temporary entry

Employees accessing the workplace require permission from their Director General.

A new online request form has been created to recover equipment personal and/or work materials should they require essential equipment for the execution of their work. It is mandatory for all equipment pick-up requests from employees not currently working in the office. For more information, including access to the form and health and safety guidelines for entering buildings, visit the office materials pick-up intranet page.

For additional information, consult COVID-19 General Safety Precautions for temporary entry into ECCC buildings (PDF).

Mental Health

Staff may be experiencing a high degree of uncertainty, worry, anxiety and stress about the health and safety of their loved ones, and how COVID-19 is disrupting their work and personal lives.

It is important for all of us to acknowledge these impacts and to engage in an open dialogue about how to maintain and support staff mental health.

Staff in need of support are encouraged to reach out to a colleague, talk with their manager, and consult the mental health and well-being resources available to them.

Additional resources

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