COVID-19 and the Workplace


The rapid spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease in March 2020 forced the sheltering-in-place of non-essential federal public service employees. The sudden need for thousands of employees to telework led to a chaotic transition. Thousands called for improved communications, coordination and planning. 

On March 13, the federal government made the decision to ask all non-essential employees to shelter in place to help flatten the COVID-19 contagion curve. In the early days of the transition, it became apparent that the government culture and IT infrastructure were not ready to embrace government-wide teleworking at such speed. CAPE members reported a messy transition mired in confusion. Feedback shared with CAPE included a critical lack of information and clarity, as well as a lack of support and patience from some managers and supervisors. This brought the collective stress and panic to their highest point.

CAPE recognized the unprecedented nature of the situation and the difficulty for the government to switch to virtual operations overnight. CAPE opted for a constructive approach, presenting recommendations to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) to improve information flow and the management of the most complex individual cases, including the use of Code 699. CAPE also offered alternative resources to its members to fill the information gap. In addition, CAPE is involved in discussions concerning a gradual return to the workplace and is committed to only endorsing plans that will put the health and safety of its members first.