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It’s Time to Get Back to Work

[:en]Let’s be honest: Wherever one sits on the political spectrum, I think all Canadians can agree our government is broken.
The Trudeau Liberals have allowed Canada’s public service sector to deteriorate to the point where it cannot provide the most basic government services in a timely manner.
Whether it’s passports, CRA issues or immigration, Canadians are struggling to access the services their tax dollars pay for, and the Trudeau Liberals are about to make things even worse.
“Hybrid work is here to stay,” says Treasury Board President Mona Fortier.
The Federal Government sent employees home, to work from home, two years ago and now they are looking to make the arrangement permanent.
The problem: it doesn’t work.
In every other aspect of life, results are the metric by which we judge success or failure. While government has long struggled with this concept, Canadians recognize that the proof is in the pudding. Sending public servants home and keeping them at home—while other sectors figured out how to work safely and efficiently—has resulted in demonstrably poorer results for Canadians.
This decline in service is understandable. Not everyone has the ability to effectively work from home. Just look at a Youtube compilation of how many Zoom calls were interrupted by children, spouses, pets, deliveries etc. For many people, their home life is simply not conducive to producing effective and productive work. Others lack the discipline to work outside a structured office setting. There are just too many distractions at home. (To that end, I am curious what metrics—if any—the government has/will put in place to ensure accountability?)
Moreover, I question the wisdom of having federal public servants dealing with the private confidential information of Canadians in their homes. We have seen what a poor job this government has done of protecting the private data of Canadians. How much riskier when that information is being more widely disseminated?
However, the government isn’t the only problem here.
Many federal public servants are, themselves, balking at returning to the office.
According to a recent survey, some 60% of the federal bureaucracy would prefer to work from home. 25% prefer a hybrid option. Only 10% wanted to get back to the office, full time.
Some concerns are valid. For example, there is no sense in sending someone into the office (on a hybrid model) when they will be the only person there and still spend their day communicating via technology. That is just one reason why I am opposed to the hybrid model.
Others, however, continue to cite fears over COVID-19 as their chief reason for not wanting to return.
That the government (and some public sector workers) are trying to justify this bad policy by playing the COVID card (claiming it is still not safe to send employees/go back to work) is just insulting to the intelligence (and resiliency) of Canadians.
Again, most sectors were able to adapt to work safely (or would have been able to do so had overly stringent government restrictions not been imposed on them). My offices, both in Provencher and Ottawa, stayed open, safely and without incident, every single work-day during the past two years to serve Provencher residents (and many other Canadians whose representatives refused to show up for duty and pick the phone).
Moreover, the government can’t have it both ways. The Trudeau Liberals imposed vaccine mandates on large swaths of the public service—including (inexplicably) those working from home. They have touted the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination, yet they say it is not safe to send a largely (95%) fully vaccinated workforce back to work? Either they trust in their vaccines, or they don’t. If they do, then there is no reason why the employees cannot safely return. If they don’t, we have a much larger national conversation that needs to take place—and their actions speak volumes.
The bottom line is, Canadians deserve results, and they’re not getting them.
Public servants deserve stability and clear communication from Ottawa, and they’re not getting it.
The government needs to stop blaming COVID and take responsibility for their failures.
“Working from home” has been a failed experiment and it’s time for the experiment to end.