Update on occupational health guidance related to COVID-19 and occupancy of federal workspaces

Message from the Chief Human Resources Officer: Update on occupational health guidance related to COVID-19 and occupancy of federal workspaces

December 17, 2021

From: Marie-Chantal Girard for Christine Donoghue, Chief Human Resources Officer and Dr. Stephen Lucas, Deputy of Health

To: Deputy Heads in the Core Public Administration (Schedules I and IV) and Heads of HR

Update on occupational health guidance related to COVID-19 and occupancy of federal workspaces


This afternoon, the President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Mona Fortier, released a statement further to the evolving public health situation and the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

In light of emerging evidence on the Omicron variant, and the potential for increased transmissibility, the Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP) has made the following four adjustments to their guidance:

  1. It is recommended that all employees of the core public administration receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible to do so in their jurisdiction.
  2. Departments and agencies should pause any planned increases to building occupancy, review current occupancy levels to ensure physical distancing can be maintained (when operationally feasible) and consider increasing remote work as required. Organizations should maintain the flexibility to adjust further should transmission rates increase, taking into account operational requirements and local public health considerations.
  3. Masks should be worn indoors in all shared spaces, even when physical distancing is maintained.
  4. Departments should avoid non-essential international travel, taking into account travel advisories. Avoid any discretionary large gatherings, such as non-essential training events or conferences.

Keeping public servants and Canadians safe has been our priority since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, we have been adaptable and learned to work differently and effectively across our organizations. We need to maintain flexible and agile approaches to manage the evolving context and to keep employees safe.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Deputy heads are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. They should continue to work with their OHS units and committees, taking into account local COVID-19 considerations and public health advice, and adapt their plans to their operational requirements.

I urge you to remind employees and managers of the wide range of services and supports available to them, including the 24/7 Employee Assistance Program. Employees are also encouraged to visit the Mental health and COVID-19 for public servants: Protect your mental health resource hub for tips, tools and supports, including accessing their Employee Assistance Program.

We will continue to monitor the public health context, remain adaptable, and update our guidance as required to protect the health and safety of employees and maintain the quality of services to Canadians, which remain our top priorities.

Marie-Chantal Girard
Christine Donoghue
Chief Human Resources Officer
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Stephen Lucas
Deputy Minister, Health Canada

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