Message from Bill Kroll, Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Management Sector
Update # 15: April 30 – Planning for the next steps
As provinces and territories begin to roll out their plans for a phased reopening, there are many questions on everyone’s minds: When can Justice resume regular operations? Will we all come back together or in stages, and who will return first? Will our buildings be safe?
Planning is now underway to help ensure that we have a smooth and safe transition back to regular operations. While there are still many unknowns, there are a number of things that are reasonably certain:
- Evidence-based approach: Regular operations will only resume when local public health authorities and the Treasury Board Secretariat advise that it is safe to do so. Our top priority is keeping all of our employees safe while we continue to support public health measures.
- Slow and staged return: It seems highly likely that we will return to work slowly, in stages, over a number of months. Some physical distancing may continue, and additional precautions may be needed to keep our workplace safe.
- Regional office returns will vary: Regional offices will likely return in different phases—some earlier, some later—depending on the decisions made in different jurisdictions across the country. Quebec has just announced its process to gradually reopen its economy. We encourage you to follow the guidelines set out in your specific jurisdiction.
- Keeping our workplaces safe: We are examining the best measures to make sure our offices and buildings are safe, such as administrative controls, hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, and access to personal protective equipment where physical distancing is not possible.
- Readiness on several fronts: In addition to ensuring our buildings are safe, the transition will also focus on operations, as well as individual employee needs. Employees will have the support and required tools to reintegrate into the workplace successfully.
I would also like to highlight a couple of specific items.
Litigation work: If you work in this area, you know that many courts and tribunals across the country are increasingly setting hearings to be held by teleconference or videoconference. In-person hearings may also need to take place, depending on the circumstances. Please know the COVID-19 Tiger Team is working with National Litigation Sector management and its Digital Litigation Working Group to ensure that our impacted employees have the tools they need and are safe when fulfilling their professional duties.
Access to leave code 699: As jurisdictions begin to lift restrictions, we will do our best to support staff through the transition. For example, employees in the Quebec region who are not yet comfortable sending their children back to daycare or school will continue to have access to “Other Paid Leave” (leave code 699) if they are unable to telework.
As circumstances change, we will all need to be flexible and ready to adapt to new realities and potentially some setbacks. I will keep you informed of important decisions and resources. We appreciate your patience as we develop the details of our approach, and as government-wide direction rolls out from TBS.
Other Departmental Updates
- Year-end Timekeeping: Additional guidance is now available regarding year-end timekeeping. Any outstanding timekeeping or correction to time entries for work performed before end of business March 31, 2020, should be finalized and entered in LEX/iCase by May 29, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. EST. If timekeepers are unable to finalize within this deadline, they should discuss immediately with their managers.
- The COVID-19 employee site has an updated Your Questions Answered section. You’ll find helpful information on everything from training to IT support to second language evaluation.
- Treasury Board Secretariat has put in place some temporary measures to help employees during this time and allow for flexibilities in the Public Service Health Care Plan and the Public Service Pension Plan.
- As detailed in Elisabeth Eid’s message on Monday, next week is Mental Health Week. I encourage you to check out the information and tools available on the Employee Resources page.
- There is still time to provide input on the information you have been receiving about COVID-19 and our workplace. Please share your views through a short survey before it closes on May 4.
I want to conclude with a special thank you to the COVID-19 Tiger Team, which includes representatives from several key areas across the Department, aimed at keeping our operations running. This group has worked tirelessly over the last couple of months to address employee needs and keep us safe in very difficult circumstances. We greatly appreciate your ongoing work.
Thank you all, and take good care.
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