COVID-19 Updates

Update from June 17, 2020

Sisters and Brothers,

Further to our message of May 15, 2020, the National Office of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) has engaged in a series of discussions with senior representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency concerning the forced deployment of some of our members into certain positions in Call Centres. As explained in our original communication, UTE agreed to not oppose situations where our members volunteered to temporarily perform duties in the administration and delivery of the COVID Emergency Benefits. Furthermore, to clarify matters, at no time did UTE agree to our members assisting in performing the functions of Call Centre Agents. When some members were temporarily assigned to these positions involuntarily, UTE intervened in the matter.

These ongoing discussions with the CRA culminated in two formal meetings last week during which the parties engaged in meaningful and respectful consultation focussed on identifying solutions supporting the delivery of the Agency’s mandate, while respecting members’ legislative, collective agreement and policy rights.

As a result, we are pleased to announce that the employer has agreed that employees will not be forcibly deployed into other positions. Moreover, they have advised us that while collections activities have been temporarily suspended, there will be a gradual resumption of these activities commencing in July throughout the summer and into the early fall, at which time it is anticipated that all permanent Collections and Verification Branch (CVB) employees would return to their substantive positions. The CRA has also committed to offer continued employment opportunities for our determinate (term) members by offering them opportunities to work in positions related to the administration and delivery of the Emergency Benefits or in Call Centres. Relatedly, the employer has agreed to return our term members to their former positions to the extent possible when normal workloads resume. With respect to our members who are assisting with the administration and delivery of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the employer is of the position that the duties being performed by these employees are consistent with their current work description.

UTE recognizes the CRA’s efforts to contribute to the economic well-being of all Canadians and is proud of the work of our members to achieve this mandate. The CRA will be issuing a call imminently seeking volunteers to be temporarily assigned to the positions that I have previously described. Permanent employees who volunteer will be provided with a letter offering a temporary lateral move. This letter will also assure those permanent employees that the terms and conditions of their substantive position will continue during the period of the temporary lateral move and that they will be returned to their substantive position at the end of the temporary assignment.

UTE encourages those members who are interested to volunteer to take on these temporary assignments to assist Canadians in this critical time of need.

We especially suggest that term employees seriously consider volunteering in order to safeguard their continued employment to the extent possible.

We are confident that our members will respond favourably as you have already done when the Emergency Benefits were first announced.

Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest that you contact your local union representative to discuss the matter.

In Solidarity,

Marc Brière
National President


Update from April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Telework information and responsibilities

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event, which has many of us now working from home in accordance with recommendations of public health authorities to “physically distance” to help “flatten the curve.” In this context, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must continue to protect the health and safety of its employees.

Given the extenuating circumstances associated with COVID-19, it is recognized that not all of the usual requirements for telework can be met.

As an alternative, please ensure that you read the information below and make every reasonable effort to fulfill the following responsibilities.

Employee responsibilities

Employees working from home are responsible for:
– understanding and following security and privacy requirements at all times as the CRA must continue to work to protect the taxpayer information for which it is entrusted;
– reading the Health and Safety Checklist and making every reasonable effort to comply with each item;
– setting up their remote workstation using the ergonomic principles;
– advising their manager of any limitations and restrictions that were being accommodated in the workplace due to a medically-related Fitness to Work Evaluation and/or formal ergonomic assessment;
– respecting all communications as outlined by their manager;
– making themselves accessible to clients, colleagues and managers, during working hours;
– being diligent in the performance of their duties within their home as the CRA is not liable for any damages to an employee’s telework space that occurs during, or is caused by the performance of their work duties.
– reporting any workplace injury, illness, hazard or security incident to their manager; and,
– returning all equipment and supplies provided during this time to the CRA when it is time to do so.

Manager’s responsibilities

When an employee is working from home, their manager is responsible for:
– ensuring duty to accommodate requirements continue to be met by implementing reasonable accommodation measures which may include making the necessary equipment and/or reasonable alternatives available, if required (see below for support with accommodation);
– maintaining communication with and among their team members, and scheduling meetings with reasonable notice;
– ensuring that employees have the information to fulfill their health, safety, security and work related responsibilities;
– tracking all CRA assets provided to employees and ensuring their return to the workplace, when applicable.

Accommodation is a multi-party approach (employee, manager and union). The accommodation measures (solutions) suitable for the home environment may or may not look the same as what is in place in the workplace controlled by the employer (i.e., existing individual accommodation plan).

To determine if measures with an existing individual accommodation plan remain the same at home, or if adjustments can/need to be made, consult the accommodation information while teleworking.

To respond to the extensive growth of telework, we have added useful links and information to support mental health while teleworking on InfoZone including a self-care tip sheet for employees and for managers. From the COVID-19 page, you can use the “Telework” filter to locate this information.

You are asked to direct any questions in regard to fulfilling your responsibilities while on telework and any other related telework questions to your manager.

Thank you for your continued support as we do our best to protect the health and safety of our workforce and aid the government’s response to this pandemic.

Doug Gaetz, Chair UTE National Health & Safety Committee at the request of CRA’s National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Section


Update from April 7, 2020

The Hamilton-Niagara TSO employees have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to help our fellow Canadians who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every member of our local should be proud of their hard work and contribution to supporting Canadians in need. The health and safety of our membership has been at the forefront of our most recent interactions with management. Justin Trudeau and health care professionals across the country have warned about the risks of infection and have provided guidelines to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our employer has worked with our union to implement protocols to ensure that physical distancing measure are being respected within the workplace. Please ensure that you are participating in physical distancing if you report to the office to pick up telework equipment.

We have been blown away at the overwhelming support from our members who have volunteered to work on the phone lines for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. 9000 employees of the CRA have put their names forward to help. Since the CERB line opened on Monday, there have been over 800,000 applicants. We have many members who are home and unable to work for various reasons such as lack of childcare, or work stoppages on non-critical workloads. Our local would like to express our appreciation for those who are unable to work. Your time in isolation is helping to keep Canadians safe by helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases.

Please stay safe and continue to reach out to your union with your concerns.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE 00014


Update from March 27, 2020

Your union and management have continued to work together to address all the changes resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our last update outlined a 3-step plan to address the remaining employees who have been unable to commit to telework for various reasons. Some of you may have begun to receive calls from the senior management team regarding your specific situation. Some of you will be contacted early next week. Management will be checking in to confirm your current ability to telework or report to the office. If you cannot come to the office or telework, please inform management of your circumstances. Management will be making our contact information available to you so that you can seek support when addressing your individual circumstances. Please contact Ingrid Ritums at 905-741-6907 or Gina Degner or 905-745-8616 if you have any questions or concerns.

We have heard from many call centre agents with questions about their contracts and whether they will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All call centre agents will be offered a contract extension to June 30th, 2020. Your work answering calls from Canadians during this pandemic is vital to the wellbeing of Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of COVID-19 and we would like to express our gratitude to all the call centre employees at Canada Revenue Agency. We understand that the calls have been difficult as a result of the pandemic and we are here to support you in any way we can.

This past week, over 400 employees in our local transitioned to teleworking. This was a huge undertaking and we are so proud of all the employees who stepped up this past week to deliver excellent service to Canadians while transitioning to working from home. As of today, we have 502 call centre agents teleworking at our call centre. The office will remain open for a small group of employees and we would like to thank them for their hard work as well.

Many non-critical employees have been asking what will happen after April 5th, 2020. At this time, we do not have an answer, but we will continue to work with our local management team and UTE to get you information regarding changes to office closures and critical and non-critical workloads as quickly as possible. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during these difficult times. Please remember to practice physical distancing, hand washing, and other measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014


Update from March 25, 2020

Your local union and management have continued to work together to address the Covid-19 pandemic. We are getting closer to our goal of having as many employees as possible teleworking. Your union and management have agreed to taking the following approach to completing telework arrangements:

1 – Arrange telework for the remaining employees who are still reporting to the office.

2 – Have individual meetings with any employee who is reporting to the office who is saying they cannot telework. These meetings will be done jointly with senior management and your local union representative. Our goal is to remove as many barriers as possible when arranging telework.

3 – Team leaders and managers will reach out to critical employees who are currently off work due to Covid-19 (i.e. in self-isolation due to travel or illness, loss of childcare, vulnerable employees) in order to discuss their ability to work and arrange telework where possible.

Please continue to use social distancing measures while you are at the office. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your union representative or manager. Your local union has been addressing all concerns brought to our attention. Please continue the check ute-hamilton.ca for more frequent updates. Please share this message with your co-workers and encourage them to sign up for email updates.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014


Update from March 24, 2020

Changes continue at a fast pace at the Hamilton-Niagara TSO while management and our union work to implement telework for critical workloads. Today, an employee was informed that their asymptomatic spouse who works in healthcare tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. This employee works for the call centre on the 8th floor at 120 King St. W. Hamilton. This employee immediately informed management and went directly home upon learning this information. This employee was not exhibiting any symptoms of the virus. The employer contacted public-health for advice on how to protect employees from any transmission within the office. The employer will be doing enhanced cleaning on the 8th floor on March 25, 2020. Enhanced cleaning is happening 4 times per day throughout the office. To further protect employees, the 8th floor at 120 King St. W. will be closed. There will be signage and management presence redirecting employees to 55 Bay St. N to pick up equipment for telework. If you cannot telework, please speak to your manager or union representative.

Management has secured enough new equipment for all critical employees to be able to telework. The best way to protect yourself, your family, and the broader community from COVID-19 is to participate in telework. Local management and your union are working together to get almost all employees out of the office on telework by the end of this week.

If you are currently off work for any reason and have been deemed critical, please contact your manager or union representative in order to arrange telework. If you currently have a medical accommodation, please contact your manager and union representative to revisit the accommodation in order to prevent workplace injuries. Management has committed to working with employees to be able to use their ergonomic equipment if needed.

A message from management went to call centre employees this evening regarding telework arrangements. Management is asking for employees to bring their own bag to carry the equipment home. Contrary to the message from the management team, your union is advising that you DO NOT SHARE bags as this could transmit the COVID-19 virus. You may bring your own bag for personal use.

Please continue to participate in the recommendations put forth by health care professionals such as social distancing and hand washing in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you or anyone in your household are unwell, please do not come to work. Contact your team leader or union representative if you are unsure about how to report your time during this COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you again for patience as we continue to ensure the health and safety of all of our members.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE 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.

I wanted to give a quick update on critical workloads that have been identified by the Agency. This list continues to evolve on a daily basis. For our purposes, I am focusing on those that involve Hamilton Niagara employees.

Our biggest contingency continues to be our Call Centre (CC) agents, Resource Officers, Team Leaders and Managers. Our primary efforts continue to be to get these folks working from home. We currently have over 300 agents who are either working from home, or who are equipped to do so once their phones are deployed. We anticipate equipping another 100 agents today. Our gaol is to have all of the CC employees work at home in order to maximize social distancing.

In addition, we have employees in our Refund Integrity program of GST/HST Audit, including High Risk Screening, as well as a number of CPP/EI Rulings officers and some Excise Duty officers, within our Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs division. These employees have also been equipped for telework, to minimize their in-office presence. We also have on site presence in our Finance and Administration areas, including Security, Mailroom and Accommodations, as well as in our Information Technology area. In the next week, there may be further workloads identified as critical, which could require additional HNTSO employees to be deployed.

For those who have been identified as critical services, it has been a challenge. Leaving your families, encountering delays in transit, and dealing with the frustrations of our clients daily has been difficult. These positions are critical to ensuring individuals and companies are able to maintain critical operations, and are able to access the necessary financial resources available to them during these troubling times. The stories of the clients who contact us daily is a reminder of how important our work is in security the economic well-being of Canadians.

As with my last message , I would like to thank our union partners, for their continuing understanding and support 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 currently exploring options to connect with you all through various social media platforms, including Zoom, and I hope to be able to do so in the next week.

The health and well-being of my employees is always at the forefront of my actions. It’s important that if you are a critical employee, and you are sick, that you stay home, and follow the advice of your health practitioner and Public Health to self-isolate where appropriate.

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

With Appreciation

Rob Coelho
Director, Hamilton Niagara TSO


Update from March 21, 2020

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.

http://ute-hamilton.ca/?page_id=939

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


Update from March 19, 2020

We would like to express a huge amount of appreciation to everyone in the call centre who has contributed in providing critical services to Canadians during this difficult time. The employer is working hard to get as many employees as possible teleworking. Please reach out to your union representative or manager if you are unsure if you meet the technical requirements for telework. Please take this opportunity to work at home where your risk of exposure and transmitting COVID-19 is the lowest. We have been working with the employer to make reasonable arrangements for all employees. At this time, even small contributions will help to provide support and resources to the must vulnerable Canadians.

We would also like to express our appreciation to all other workers at our local, from all departments, who are coming into the office or teleworking. As we transition to telework, please continue to participate in social distancing efforts if you come to the office to pick up equipment. Please continue to bring your concerns forward to your union so that we can support you through all the changes that are occurring.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE 00014


Update from March 18, 2020

Your local union and management have continued to work together today to address the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that employees who continue to report to work are feeling very stressed and have been questioning the importance of their work. The prime minister’s announcement today made it clear that Canadians are in need and will be relying on their government for support. More than ever, it is critical that we continue to provide information to Canadians about how to access the much-needed aid that is being offered.

We are working collaboratively with management in order to address your concerns. The prime minister has urged Canadians to stay home in order to support the effort the reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative that we work with management to get as many employees as possible participating in telework. Management is adapting to the situation by changing the telework requirements in order to remove as many barriers as possible. Please take time at work to read the HUB and emails and complete the telework template. Management has committed to providing an additional 15 minutes off the phone in order to complete this work.

Some of our members rely on public transit in order to come to work. The HSR announced today that they will no longer be charging customers and asking people to board at the rear in order to support social distancing efforts. Our employer has committed to covering any additional expenses that you may incur while travelling to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employees have decided to drive or use ride-sharing programs (i.e. Taxi or Uber). Please keep your receipts in order to submit them for possible reimbursements. Please speak to your union representative or manager for more information on what type of expenses will be approved.

We would like to thank our members again for all their hard work. The mental health of our membership is at the forefront of our minds. Social isolation and pandemic fears are exacerbating symptoms in those who suffer from mental illness. Please reach out to friends and family and check if they are okay. Use empathy and kindness in difficult situations. Please know that your union is here to support you during this difficult situation, and we are ready to hear from you.

Always in support of our membership.

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014


Update from March 17, 2020

We would like to start by expressing our deepest appreciation for all the front-line workers who continue to report to work during this time of crisis. Whether you are in the office or teleworking, your services are vital to the social and economic wellbeing of Canada. The prime minister’s announcement today highlighted the need for Canadians to be able to rapidly access emergency services and funds. Your work will ensure that Canada is working together so that no person is left behind during this pandemic.

Local union and management have continued to work closely today to rapidly respond to the fast-paced changes that are occurring from the COVID-19 outbreak. Local management has implemented several changes in order to reduce the risk of exposure to employees who continue to come into the office to work. Effective March 18th, the call centre will have 50% of the workforce remain at home in order to support social distancing. Employees with odd number desk will report to work on March 18. Employees with even number desk will report to work on March 19. If you are unsure if you should report to work, please contact your team leader. Management is continuing to implement telework as quickly as possible. We are working towards having as many call centre agents as possible teleworking.

Our union has received many reports of call centre workers who are experiencing an increased amount of stress and anxiety because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We approached management and asked them to reduce stress on agents by postponing all CCAAT and NQALP evaluations and management has agreed to this measure in order to support the well being of call centre agents and team leaders. Management has announced that all term employees will be extended until June 30, 2020. This announcement will, hopefully, reduce some additional anxiety on our call centre agents.

Enhanced cleaning is continuing in the office on doors, railings, etc. Wipes and gloves are available in the office. Please read the HUB message or see your team leader to access wipes and gloves. If you are sick and experience any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, please stay home. There have been reports of employees who appear unwell reporting to work. Please do not risk exposing your fellow co-workers to the COVID-19 virus. The city of Hamilton has created a self-assessment questionnaire to help individuals determine what steps they should take if experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. You can access the questionnaire at the following URL:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-self-assessment

Please continue to reach out to your union and management if you have any additional concerns. We are committed to working together to support all our members during this difficult time

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014


Update from March 16, 2020

Our local union has continued to work with management to address all concerns regarding COVID-19. The situation is rapidly evolving, and we are trying to address all your concerns. For employees who are continuing to report to work: Local management is working to implement telework as quickly as possible. If you are interested in teleworking, please contact your team leader to determine if you are eligible. There are several precautionary steps that will be implemented over the next several days in order to minimize the risk of exposure to employees who are in the office. Enhanced cleaning will be happening in the office this week. Changes will be implemented so employees will be spread out in order to maintain a safe distance from each other while at their desks. Employees will be provided with gloves, wipes, and time to clean their desk. If you are unable to clean your desk, please see your team leader or open a ticket to have it cleaned. If you feel that you cannot attend work for any reason because of the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact us immediately. Local management has committed to addressing your concerns on a case by case basis.

Local president, Gina Degner, and 2nd Vice-President, Ingrid Ritums, are self-isolating for 2 weeks as they had an unexpected trip to the USA. They are both available by phone throughout the day to address your concerns.

Gina Degner – 905-745-8616
gina.unioninfo@gmail.com

Ingrid Ritums – 905-741-6907
ingrid.ritums@gmail.com

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014


Update from March 15, 2020

Our union has been working closely with management to minimize the spread of Covid-19. We have received confirmation from the management team that our offices will be open to employees who perform critical services. All other employees should stay home in order to help prevent further exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Employees at the call centre at 55 Bay St. N and 120 King St have been deemed critical and should report to work. All employees should call the building status line at 1-877-215-7336 for the most up to date information. You may also contact your union representative, manager, or team leader if you are unsure if you should be reporting to work. Management at our office has been working hard to implement telework for as many employees as possible. Please do not come in to work if you are sick and exhibiting any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus. Child care arrangements will be difficult for many of us over the coming weeks and management is working on accommodating employees who are caring for children. Please contact your union representative, team leader, or manager if you cannot come to work because of an unexpected lack of childcare due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We will be continuing to receive updates and working with management to protect our members and keep you up to date with the latest information. 

Please find below the messaging sent out by CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton and CRA Deputy Commissioner Christine Donoghue sent to all CRA staff on the evening of March 15th

In solidarity,

Executive of UTE Local 00014  


Good evening,

Since our last message on March 13, 2020 efforts to slow the spread of the infection have evolved significantly, as we continue to face a unique set of rapidly changing circumstances. You, our employees, are our priority as we continue to balance the need to deliver critical services to Canadian taxpayers and businesses, with the need to contribute to local, regional and national efforts to respond to public health authorities’ advice and direction.

This update reflects the latest guidance issued by TBS OCHRO since our last message of March 13, 2020, up to and including the message sent to Deputy Heads at 6:01 p.m. on March 15, 2020.

CRITICAL SERVICES

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and reduce drain on critical resources, effective today, March 15, 2020, and until April 5, 2020, only CRA employees who perform critical services for Canadians will be required to continue to work, remotely if possible. Your manager will communicate with you if your role is considered a critical service.

All other CRA employees are asked to stay home in order to minimize the spread of illness, and are asked to refrain from logging onto the CRA network using secure remote access to minimize impact on our ability to deliver critical services to Canadians and in the community.

For the purposes of this communication, critical services is understood to include the following (please note that this list is not exhaustive, and may be subject to change as the situation continues to evolve and the Agency may be asked to contribute to the Government-wide response in new and different ways):

· Ensuring the continuation of benefits payments to benefit recipients, and associated functions, including the processing of returns and responding to calls received in CRA’s Income Tax and Benefit Enquiries and Business Enquiries call centres;

· Activities associated with the CRA’s contribution to the Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to supporting Canada’s economic resilience during the pandemic;

· Activities associated with the CRA’s internal management of our organization’s response to the pandemic, especially as it relates to the safety and security of our workforce.

Where possible, employees supporting critical services should perform these services remotely. If you are a CRA employee who performs critical services, your manager will communicate with you and determine whether you should work from home or come into a CRA office. Where these functions must be performed in the workplace, arrangements are being made to safeguard the health and safety of employees through appropriate cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Only CRA employees and contractors who support critical services will be allowed to access CRA buildings.

We will communicate in advance of April 6, 2020, should there be a requirement to extend or modify this work restriction.

LEAVE

In keeping with the guidance issued by OCHRO on March 13, 2020, the following will apply.

Employees that are required by public health officials to self-isolate: If in good health, identified as supporting a critical service, and able to work, employees will be asked to discuss with their managers the option to telework. If that is not possible, the employees will be granted “other leave with pay (6990 code)” as per their collective agreements.

Individual cases may have to be examined on their own merits (i.e. if an employee willingly chose to travel to affected areas contrary to public health advice.)

Employees who are identified as supporting a critical service and whose children cannot attend school or daycare due to a closure or because of attendance restrictions in place in relation to the coronavirus situation. Employees will:

· Attempt to make alternative care arrangements.

· If that is not possible, they discuss with their managers, the option to telework.

· If that is not possible, they will be granted “other leave with pay” (6990 code).

The above provisions for disruption of school and daycare operations related to the coronavirus will remain available to employees and managers for the duration of the disruption in the respective jurisdictions but will be reassessed by the Employer on April 10, 2020.

If you have any questions, contact your manager. Only if you are faced with a no pay situation, please send an email to the CCSC-CSCR@cra-arc.gc.ca.

In keeping with public health authorities’ advice, medical certificates should not be required during the pandemic.

TRAVEL

The Government of Canada has issued an Official Global Travel Advisory, requesting that all Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Anyone returning from travel abroad is required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. You should also inform your manager.

MEETINGS

Whenever possible, meetings should be conducted via teleconferencing. A reminder not to use web conferencing, in order to minimize burden on the network.

If you are an employee performing critical services and working in a CRA building, and you believe that you are confronted with a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case, please immediately contact your local Public Health Authority and your manager.

PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE

Looking after our people is our priority. We must all follow the PHAC and Health Canada workplace-specific guidance on the new Canada.ca page for Government of Canada employees as well as the direction of local public health authorities when specific cases arise. The authoritative source of information for Canadians on COVID-19 is Canada.ca/coronavirus and the Information Line at 1 833-784-4397. Since this is an evolving situation, managers and employees must consult this site on a daily basis.

For questions about COVID-19 in the workplace, visit the Canada.ca page for Government of Canada employees. This page will be expanded in the coming days to include more guidance and frequently asked questions.

If you are concerned about your health and safety, you should discuss your concerns with your manager who can refer to labour relations for advice.

BUSINESS AT THE CRA

The CRA is well positioned to respond to the emergence of COVID-19. The agency has comprehensive business continuity plans in place and the Agency COVID-19 Task Force has been established. A number of other steps are being taken that will help the CRA continue to deliver services to Canadians in a healthy and safe environment.

We recognize that colleagues across the country are actively participating in the containment effort, or are themselves in self-isolation. We want to take this opportunity to signal our respect and support for them and for those working tirelessly across government to support and serve Canadians.

We know these times are stressful. Please remember you and your family members can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program if you need support.

Your health and safety is our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and will share updates with you as information becomes available.

Thank you for your continued cooperation.

CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton and
CRA Deputy Commissioner Christine Donoghue