OTTAWA – COVID-19 restrictions are eased in federal workplaces in the National Capital Region, potentially paving the way for more employees to return to the office during the pandemic.
The President of the Board of Finance, Mona Fortier, says new ‘occupational health guidelines’ from Health Canada will allow more government employees to “work together in greater numbers in federal work environments.”
The guidelines outline steps for the gradual increase of build-up capacity, while maintaining the flexibility to adjust if COVID-19 transmission speeds increase.
“This is good news as it will inform departmental planning about where and how federal civil servants can work based on their operational contexts, the nature of their work and the guidance of public health authorities,” Fortier said in a statement.
“There is no uniform approach.”
Public Service Occupational Health Program COVID-19 guidance from Health Canada comes after the full implementation of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for the central public administration, including RCMP.
“Buildings can be gradually increased, potentially up to full occupancy, based on operational requirements, appropriate use of preventive practices in the workplace, building design and local public health considerations, while maintaining the flexibility to adjust if transmission speeds increase,” the Health Guidelines state. Canada.
“As building occupancy increases, departments and agencies should maximize physical distance in indoor spaces when the environment or operation allows it (eg space workstations at least 2 meters away where operationally possible).”
The ‘workplace prevention practices’ include:
All employees working on site will either be fully vaccinated or, if they have a dispensation, be tested regularly
Physical distance will be maximized in indoor spaces
Departments track employee and visitor participation
Employees should wear masks indoors when physical distance can not be maintained, as well as when they are with visitors
Personal meetings can be held as long as the safety instructions are followed, including distancing and limiting the number of participants and the duration of a meeting
High-traffic work areas and often affected surfaces (elevator buttons, door handles, bathroom fittings) are cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the department’s protocols
Employees stay home when they are sick
As of Wednesday, 95 percent of federal government employees are fully vaccinated, while 98 percent of employees have received at least one shot. All civil servants should certify their vaccination status by October 29, while civil servants who refuse to disclose their vaccination status or who have not been fully vaccinated will be put on administrative leave from Monday, November 15.
“As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, employees can be assured that all measures will continue to be taken to ensure their health and safety at work,” Fortier said.
The new Occupational Safety and Health Guide to ease federal workplace restrictions comes as Ottawa sees an increase in COVID-19 cases. Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while the seven-day average rose to 37.4 cases. Before Halloween, the average of seven days was 22 cases.
Doctor in the health service Dr. Vera Etches was asked if she is concerned about employees returning to the office as COVID-19 cases increase.
“I think every employer will review what safety precautions they need to take to prevent COVID transmission in the workplace,” Etches said. “Vaccination is a very good protection, so we have seen that many employers require vaccination so that people can be in the workplace. Then again, you add the other things that make a difference – that is, wearing masks, being able to keep your distance, ventilation – these all help to ensure that people can return to work in a safer way. “
There are no words about a possible date for more employees to return to the workplace, but Fortier says departments and agencies will continue to “build flexibility” into their work models where possible.
“I look forward to continued leadership among departments and agencies as they build flexibility into their work models where possible and where it makes sense. We will also continue to monitor public health measures to ensure staff health and safety are a priority. ” said Fortier.
“And as the country’s largest employer, the Government of Canada will continue to engage with our partners, stakeholders and communities. We serve to build a post-pandemic future that is national in scope and diverse and agile in character.”