March 21 Update – Summary of our actions this week & HNTSO Director’s Message

The first part of this update comes from the executive of UTE Local 00014. The second part comes from Rob Coelho, Director of the Hamilton Niagara Tax Services Office.

The executive of UTE Local 00014 want to support open and transparent communication during the current pandemic. To that end, at the request of management, we’ve agreed to post the second part on Rob Coelho’s behalf.

Updates are available online from the employer, the UTE Local 00014 website and the UTE National website.

This past week, we have seen unprecedented collective action across the country in order to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. Unfortunately, the number of cases across Canada continues to grow. The best way to protect vulnerable Canadians is to flatten the curve by adhering to the guidelines put forth by health care professionals. Social distancing, hand washing, and other measures will not only protect you and your family from contracting Covid-19, but it will also reduce the risk of spreading this virus. Front line workers across the country have spent the past week working hard to provide necessary goods and services to Canadians. We would like to thank all workers, especially our members, who have continued to work at some risk to the health of them and their family.

We have continued to work with management to implement telework for all our members who have been deemed critical. We have had a few members reach out with concerns about starting to telework and requesting to remain in the office. Our executive is supporting management in their effort to get all employees teleworking. If you are healthy and low risk of having severe complication from Covid-19, we know that you could be putting your fellow co-workers, managers, building security, and general public unnecessarily at risk by continuing to come to the office once telework becomes fully viable. Our union and management will continue to work closely together to address your concerns and attempt to remove barriers on a case-by-case basis.

There are a significant number of our members who are currently off work because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The employer’s email is internal on CRA systems and many of our members are not able to access information updates from management. The HNTSO senior management team has reached out to us to aide in communication with our membership. If you are receiving this email, please share it with other employees so we can communicate with as many members as possible. Please share the link below to sign up for e-mail updates. Some communications from the HNTSO management team will be coming from the local union. Our local union’s goal is to keep people informed during this pandemic. You will need a line of communication if the office closes. Please check the website for updates as we are unable to send mass emails daily, but we are updating the website with new information on a regular basis.

Please continue to contact your union about your concerns and we will address them with the senior management team.

In Solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014

Dear Hamilton Niagara Employees:

As I mentioned in my last all-staff message, any specific messaging related to COVID-19 will come from the Commissioner’s Office, to ensure there is no conflicting direction and as the situation is quickly evolving.

That being said, I do want to take a moment to express my sincere thanks to all staff in the Hamilton Niagara TSO.  For those of you who are at home, your social distancing is critical in helping limit the spread of this virus, which benefits all Canadians. 

For our critical service staff, including our Call Centre staff, our Finance and Admin staff, our IT colleagues, and our folks in CPP Rulings and Refund Integrity, as well as our extended management team, I want to thank you for mobilizing so quickly to provide service.  In particular, our amazing agents, Resource Officers, Team Leaders, Managers and Assistant Director in the Call Centre are working around the clock, during a busy filing season, as well as receiving many calls related to the governments COVID-19 assistance package  They are dealing with exceptionally upset and stressed clients, as well as managing calls on new programs with limited available information. For our Call Centre staff, I want to express my gratitude for your dedication and tireless work ethic.

Additionally, we have been working as a priority on setting up as many Call Centre agents at home through telework, and we’re hoping by the end of today to have over 300 ready to do so.  These efforts are being undertaken to maximize social distancing in our office.

I would also like to thank our union partners, who have been exceptionally understanding and supportive of staff and our management team during this difficult time. If you have any specific questions, please reach out to your union or manager.  I am in regular contact with your bargaining agents and Assistant Directors and we should be able to honestly respond to your individual questions or concerns.

I am honoured and humbled to work with such exceptional employees during an extremely challenging time for everyone and thank you for your continued efforts.

I hope you and your family are all safe and healthy.

With Appreciation,

Rob Coelho
Director, Hamilton Niagara TSO