Source: Facebook

Federal public sector workers are not happy after the federal government called on public servants to return to the office for three days a week, starting later this year. 

An anonymous source within the federal government told CBC News that the policy change will likely come into effect in September, but may be subject to change. 

Around 155,000 Public Service Alliance of Canada members walked off the job last year to maintain the twice-a-week hybrid model. 

“Now, you will be protected from arbitrary decisions about remote work by the government,” wrote the PSAC in a statement last June. 

Their union called the situation a “watershed moment” for workers’ rights at the time; now, along with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, they say they have been blindsided by the federal government. 

“It absolutely catches us by surprise,” said Stéphanie Montreuil, head of public affairs, told CBC News. “It came with no warning and no consultations from our part.”

Montreuil said some members are only attending the office to participate in virtual meetings. “We’ve advocated for presence with purpose,” she said.

However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford believes it’s time for federal public servants to return to their offices in downtown Ottawa, hoping the change will bolster the city’s economy.  

“Three days is a good start,” said Ford in response to the news. “When you’re coming here, go out for lunch, maybe go into a store, pick something up, go to the mall — that’s what we need, that’s what stirs the economy.”

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement said that it will be left up to individual ministries to have the final say on how employees should return to their offices.

“All departments need to contribute to the conversations that are taking place with the Treasury Board,” said Duclos.

Under the new 2024 federal budget, there is a target for cutting the Public Services and Procurement Canada’s office portfolio by 50%. 

Most public servants were instructed that there’d be a return to the office of up to three days per week in late 2022 via a government mandate.