Home Labour Relations Union points to lack of adequate office space for workers as fight continues over Ottawa’s return-to-office mandate

Union points to lack of adequate office space for workers as fight continues over Ottawa’s return-to-office mandate

by HR News Canada
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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) has unveiled preliminary data from a recent survey that underscores significant challenges federal public service workers are encountering under the new Return to Office (RTO) mandate.

The survey results indicate a widespread lack of adequate office space for employees. Eva Henshaw, Acting President of PIPSC, commented on the findings, stating, “Our survey results reinforce this order’s lack of evidence-based decision-making and nonsensical nature. The vast majority of our members do not even have an adequate office environment to return to.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Fewer than 30% of respondents have a dedicated workstation.
  • Less than half feel their current working conditions meet their needs.
  • 50% of racialized, LGBTQ2S+, and people with disabilities are likely or extremely likely to consider leaving the public service due to the RTO directive.

Henshaw further noted, “There is a clear contradiction between the government’s RTO mandate and the government’s goals on increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion within the public service. It’s time for telework agreements that will diversify the workforce and truly reflect the geography and demographics of Canada.”

The survey also revealed that one of the primary reasons cited for the RTO mandate – opportunities for collaboration – is not supported by the data. “91% of PIPSC members said their meetings are always or almost always virtual,” Henshaw added. “The public might imagine teams working closely together in the same space, but the reality is employees are sitting on video calls all day – rarely even in the same building as their teammates.”

PIPSC plans to address these issues directly with Treasury Board President Anita Anand at the Mayor’s Breakfast event in Ottawa this Thursday. Henshaw expressed frustration with the current communication barriers, stating, “Our attempts to engage with Minister Anand have been met with silence. It is concerning that we are forced to buy tickets to a municipal breakfast event to initiate a dialogue.”

In May 2024, PIPSC conducted a survey of more than 60,000 of its members working for federal departments or agencies to assess their experiences with returning to the office. Over 20,000 members responded.

PIPSC is urging the federal government to reconsider its RTO directive and collaborate with unions to develop policies that better represent the current and future work landscape.

PIPSC represents over 75,000 public-sector professionals across Canada, most of whom are employed by the federal government.

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