Positive meeting with Treasury Board President Fortier about return to the workplace
On June 30, 2022 , President Jennifer Carr met with Treasury Board (TB) President Mona Fortier to discuss key member concerns, including the return to the workplace and the government’s strategic review of public services announced in its 2022 budget. Overall, the meeting was friendly and collaborative and we look forward to an ongoing positive relationship with the TB President.
Return to the workplace
Jennifer advocated for the employer to show flexibility as the public service evolves into a “hybrid” model.
Throughout the pandemic, our members have demonstrated their ability to support Canadians while working remotely. With new technologies, we no longer need to be “tied to our desks.”
A majority of our members have expressed a preference for working from home at least part of the time. It creates a better work-life balance with no loss of productivity or effectiveness.
The employer must provide access to hybrid and telework arrangements that are:
- Accommodating to individual preferences
- Approved without bias or unreasonable criteria.
They also need to support the right to disconnect and work-life balance.
We will not stand for compromised safety for members who cannot or do not wish to work from home. Air quality, ventilation and building safety need to be front and centre in any return to work plans. All departments and agencies must be transparent and work with our representatives on their plans to “open up” worksites. They must respect collective agreements and all applicable legislation.
The TB wants this important conversation to happen at the National Joint Council, where representatives of federal bargaining agents and the employer regularly meet to discuss critical issues. While we support this collaborative approach, we need more details. As individual government departments and agencies develop their return to the workplace plans, our members have begun receiving notices of their eventual return to their regular work locations. This has been happening without consulting with the National Joint Council.
Strategic review of the public service
President Carr emphasized that the strategic review should not be a “one size fits all” review like the review under the Harper government. Our members, and the Canadians they serve, are still feeling the impact of those cuts from over a decade ago.
President Fortier reiterated the government’s desire for a “smarter, not smaller” public service. She is looking to create efficiencies and demonstrate fiscal responsibility - offering programs more efficiently while still maintaining service levels. She mentioned that monies saved by reducing the government’s real estate portfolio could be used to invest in housing and building communities – but nothing is finalized at this point.