Today, National President of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, David Neufeld, appealed to Public Safety Minister Marco E. L. Mendicino to support a proactive and collaborative approach in ‘Defining the New Normal’ during this pandemic era, in regards to the options available for federal public service employees to work remotely, engage in tele-work and/or work directly on site.
USJE recognizes that the approaches taken by departments and agencies vary widely when it comes to defining the new normal in the pandemic/post pandemic environment – depending on the nature of the department, agency, region, role that employees play as well as level of perceived or real risk of COVID 19.
Concerns about new COVID variants, the efficacy of vaccines, front line interactions with the public or vulnerable sub-populations, work in congregate settings (federal penitentiaries and Community Correctional facilities), among others, demand a nuanced, cautious and informed approach when determining the environments in which public service employees will serve.
Federal public service employees have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to adapt to unprecedented working conditions, while advancing public safety outcomes. Taking a balanced approach moving forward that recognizes the value of workplace flexibility while maintaining vigilance in managing the risks of COVID-19 and upholding public safety is key to a healthy and energized workforce.
As a key labour partner, USJE believes that it is imperative that, as per Treasury Board direction, agencies and departments actively work with bargaining agents in a collaborative way to determine the appropriate work measures as things evolve throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, this approach has not always been taken by every department/agency in recent months, creating undue stress and perceptions or the reality that some public safety employees are subject to unnecessary risks, particularly within certain areas of the Correctional Service of Canada and the RCMP.
USJE is a dynamic, data driven organization committed to strong public policy outcomes – and a well-trained and well-supported public safety federal workforce. USJE is eager to do the heavy lifting alongside senior managers of the 18 departments and agencies it represents in order to determine safe and viable pandemic transition plans that advance public safety – and that do not compromise the crucial work undertaken by federal public servants, or the wellbeing of these public servants themselves.
USJE will keep its members up to date on developments as they emerge over the next few weeks, months.
To share any insights or challenges regarding your own workplace experience, please contact your relevant Regional Vice President or send USJE an email here. It will be reviewed by the communications team and brought to the attention of the RVP and/or USJE’s National President if required.