Responding to easing of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions for Government of Canada worksites

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Current situation

Like many Canadians, in mid-March, a large number of public servants traded their usual worksites for makeshift ones. Many have worked long hours, in new and innovative ways, or learned new jobs to ensure Canadians continue to receive the services they rely on during an uncertain time.

New services that would have normally taken many months to plan and execute were rolled out in a matter of days and weeks, including the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, and coordinating the largest repatriation effort in Canadian history. Many public servants also served on the front lines of this pandemic, and their work has been critical to Canada’s response.

As recent data suggests some flattening of the curve of new infections in jurisdictions, a number of provinces are announcing their plans for beginning to ease restrictions and gradually re-opening economies. Public health authorities have signaled that physical distancing requirements will remain in place. Many employees will find themselves working from home for some time to come.

The Government of Canada will move cautiously as it considers when to increase access to federal worksites.

We will be guided by the decisions of public health authorities, including Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, and the direction of provinces and territories. Planning will be based on government-wide guidance and will also take into consideration the local public health situation and the nature of the work.

How we are supporting employees

We are supporting employees by:

Gradually increasing access to federal worksites

The physical and psychological health and safety of employees is paramount. Access to federal worksites will align with advice provided by local, provincial and federal public health authorities. GC-wide guidance is currently being developed and will be provided to departments and agencies to facilitate this next phase of planning.

Departments and agencies will ease restrictions based on their unique situations, taking into account the need to continue providing critical services to Canadians while ensuring the safety of employees.

You can expect that

  • you will receive regular updates as more information becomes available
  • you will be kept up to date leading up to any changes to your current situation
  • in most cases, the workforce will include both employees working on-site and working remotely
  • employees who are considered high-risk will continue to work remotely when possible, including those who
    • have chronic illnesses
    • are immunosuppressed, or
    • are living with others who are considered high-risk
  • new training and job aids from your organization and the Canada School of Public Service will be available to support you and your teams

Your organization will

  • continue to support those who are working remotely with the equipment and access needed to do their work
  • provide information about increasing access to worksites and sequencing
  • undertake worksite planning in consideration of the need to
    • be inclusive
    • support productivity
    • deliver critical services
    • maximize working remotely
    • ensure mental and physical safety
    • respect employees’ accommodation and accessibility requirements

What we need from you

  • follow public health measures including hand hygiene, physical distancing and follow local public health direction to and from the worksite and outside the worksite
  • stay home when showing symptoms identified by health authorities
  • take care of your personal mental health, such as taking a self-assessment through the Wellness Together Canada portal to find available supports
    • if your mental or emotional health is suffering, access EAP or a health care professional (e.g. a family doctor)
  • while working remotely, take all health, safety, and security precautions in accordance with all laws, policies and regulations, and maintain regular contact with your manager and colleagues

Learn more about employee roles and responsibilities.

Preparing buildings

In federal buildings, the focus will be on the health and well-being of employees who will be using the spaces. This includes:

  1. Cleanliness – especially of high-touch surfaces and areas
  2. Physical (social) distancing – so that employees can move around the worksite at a safe distance from each other (minimum two meters)

What’s next

Your organization will:

  • communicate a plan to address any gradual return to the worksite
  • identify primary work functions and increase productivity for all
  • determine what work can be done remotely as part of regular operations
  • implement measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission (for example, physical distancing, flexible work schedules, protective barriers, etc.)
  • continue to monitor reported cases in the federal public service, as reported by managers through the Employee Status Reporting tool
  • continue to manage psychosocial risks to support employee mental health and well-being
  • equip you with technological and leadership tools to help you navigate the next normal
  • engage with your union representatives on questions that are of importance to you

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