Message from Bill Kroll, Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Management Sector
Update # 18: May 26 – Our Plan, In Detail
As the Deputy Ministers mentioned in their message to staff on Friday, planning is well underway for a gradual easing of restrictions at our worksites. I am pleased today to share some more specific details about our efforts.
Through tremendous collaboration and hard work, we have a detailed tactical plan—one that will continue to evolve to align with advice, evidence and best practices from relevant public health authorities, central agencies, bargaining agents, the legal community and private industry.
As mentioned by the Deputies, there are no specific dates attached to this plan given how quickly public health advice could change, along with the fact that Justice will be taking an iterative, phased approach. As you now know, plans for a gradual return to the workplace will be different among federal government departments, regions and cities, as well as within individual divisions and teams here at Justice. Much will depend on local public health advice and specific work requirements.
In all of these scenarios, if you are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms or are not feeling well, please inform your manager, take the appropriate leave, and follow public health guidance on what steps to follow, including self-isolation. In order to stop further spread of the virus, we must continue to be diligent in this area. We must also continue to wash our hands, practice physical distancing and, for added protection, wear a non-medical mask when unable to maintain physical distancing.
In terms of the Justice plan, it will roll out in a number of phases, keeping in mind that if required by public health authorities, we may need to step back to a previous phase:
Pre-Implementation Planning (Current Phase)
- This is our current phase. We are putting in place specific guidance about departmental operations when COVID-19 related restrictions are eased.
- We are incorporating the most up-to-date local public health advice and considering our employees’ specific work requirements.
- Determining requirements for employees to work on-site
- Determining building and floor capacity limits, and capacity limits and processes for small spaces (washrooms, meeting rooms, elevators, etc.)
- Procuring supplies for personal protective measures, cleaning and sanitization, and signage
- Delivering training tools, including new mandatory virtual sessions for managers and supervisors starting next week
- Consulting with other departments, central agencies, bargaining agents, and occupational health and safety communities of practice
- Obtaining feedback from employees with the pulse survey. While the response to the pulse survey has been excellent—thank you everyone—in order to provide an added opportunity to those who have not yet submitted their answers, the survey will be open until midnight tonight.
- During this first phase of implementation, some client departments, courts and tribunals will be restarting operations.
- Remote working will remain the preferred way for employees to conduct business, where possible, and most meetings will continue to be held virtually. A few employees will be allowed to return to some workplaces, as determined by managers, but considerable facility and employee safety measures will be in place.
- Implement and communicate workplace physical distancing measures to ensure that employees and visitors remain two metres apart
- Implement single-direction stairwells and hallways
- Indicate and enforce maximum occupancy limits in specific spaces
- Use enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces and common areas, and provide increased access to hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes/spray
- Ensure employees follow a “clean before and after use” principle, as well as a clean desk policy to permit surface cleaning and physical distance among workstations
- Liaise with Public Services and Procurement Canada and property managers to ascertain building specific safety protocols for common areas (lobbies, stairwells, elevators, entry/exit points)
- Procure increased amounts of personal protective equipment (e.g. face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer) and ensure this supply is well maintained
- Continue to obtain feedback from employees, with possible additional pulse surveys
- Consider lessons learned prior to implementing the next phase
- In this next phase, an increased number of employees will be allowed to return to all workplaces, although the temporary measures listed above may remain in place.
- Remote work will continue to be the default practice in most cases. However, there could be some meetings with a small number of participants occurring face-to-face.
- Large gatherings may still be prohibited, and travel will be limited to critical operations if public health authorities allow.
- Self-monitoring and self-isolation will still be required as per public health direction.
- Assess effectiveness of existing measures and adapt where needed
- Continue to monitor and maintain stock of personal protective equipment
- Determine parameters to implement the next phase
- Consider need for additional changes to buildings and workstations, such as physical barriers between workstations or hands-free/no-touch technologies (such as motion sensored lights, automatic doors)
- This phase only occurs once the pandemic has ended and we have reached our end state. Reaching this phase will depend on public health direction.
- It will be informed by lessons learned through the previous phases, and some of the previously temporary measures may become permanent.
- Meetings and travel could reach normal, stable levels and include new protocols.
- Remote working arrangements for employees may be formalized.
- Incorporate all existing measures and communications into ongoing training and communications for employees
- Update any applicable policies and guidelines
There are clearly some unknowns, and the plan will remain flexible. It will be adjusted as information and guidance from health authorities changes.
I am sharing an extensive level of detail about our plans because we should all understand the steps needed to make this transition work. If you have questions, I encourage you to speak to your manager or supervisor, who will receive even more detail as part of their training. An open dialogue is key during these times.
I appreciate your patience as we work through this process together. Thank you again for your ongoing support.
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