How are you doing? Protecting your mental health and wellbeing.
Register for this webinar at this link
Webinar starts at 7:30PM NDT/ 6:00PM EST/ 3:00PM PDT
The pandemic has led to a series of losses, from our sense of safety to our social connections to our financial security. We are increasingly isolated from normal activities that bring us into contact with others. Going to work, shopping, visiting the library or making arrangements to catch up with friends and family are impacted by the need for personal distancing and social isolation. Furthermore, the COVID 19 pandemic has also disrupted usual grieving and funeral practices. The community is grappling with making sense of the seismic changes in their much-needed mourning rituals. In order to slow the spread of the pandemic individuals are now asked to physically isolate themselves. This is a guideline that impacts almost all usual grieving and funeral practices. It has created thousands of new mourners, many of whom are grieving alone.
To assist employees with the potential losses both in the workplace or in personal lives, the Employee Assistance Program has put together a grief and loss toolkit. Every experience of loss can be different, as well as the circumstances around any loss may vary as well. Consequently, one often needs to approach supporting staff with a more tailored approach.
Some useful tips to keep in mind when supporting a bereaved person during self-isolation and physical distancing:
Make that phone call to tell them you are especially thinking of them during this time
Allow them to talk about their loved one, as well as their fears
Understand their grief from their perspective and normalize their experience
Try to avoid clichés; listen if you do not know what to say
Allow a space for them to cry, give them that time, your silence allows for this
It is always okay to express sorrow over their loss
Stay in contact with them on a regular basis: video chat, phone
Encourage them to seek or keep in contact with supports
“Visit” them virtually. Make a coffee date
Encourage them to access professional and other supports.
Should you wish to consult on best approaches in dealing with grief and bereavement concerns, , or for further information on EAP services that can best support you, your family and/or your staff, please do not hesitate to contact your local coordinator-counsellor or visit the EAP website at http://infozone/eap or https://www.workhealthlife.com/ if you do not have a CRA computer.
If you have any concerns and need support for yourself or your staff, please do not hesitate to contact the Employee Assistance Program, External EAP Provider: Shepell (E) 1-800-268-5211, (F) 1-800-363-3872, (TTY) 1-800-363-6270, available 24 hours, 7 days a week; website: www.workhealthlife.com
Grief and Loss Resources – On Line Support
Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace
New information hub focused on Mental Health and COVID-19. Preliminary information has been populated, which focuses on protecting your mental health and getting help if needed.
Free online resource that helps parents support their children when someone in their life is dying or has died. It equips parents with the words and confidence needed to help children grieve life’s losses in healthy ways.
Bereaved Families of Ontario
BFO can assist you to be helpful for a friend, relative or co-worker who has experienced the death of a loved one. They provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for you to discuss your experiences and learn about grief with others who have been there. The service we provide is free, no charge for our help and support. Bilingual support available in some communities.
Extensive Health and Well Being library with many helpful articles around grief and bereavement. Free to CRA ON Region employees.
www.workhealthlife.com for “Search Organization” enter Canada Revenue Agency and then CRA Ontario Region from drop-down list.
Wellness Together Canada
WTC will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.
This resource can help you understand grief and work through some of the difficult issues you may be facing. MyGrief.ca has been developed by a team of national and international grief experts together with people who have experienced significant loss in their own. It is not meant to replace professional counselling or other health care services.
Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Telehealth Ontario is only offered over the phone. Email advice is not available.
Statement from PSAC National President Chris Aylward:
Over the last two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSAC members have been on the frontlines battling the virus and delivering emergency financial support to millions of Canadians. They continue to provide these critical services, they do so without a new contract, and many have not seen wage increases for up to four years.
It’s time for the federal government to fix this by heading back to the bargaining table and reaching a settlement for over 140,000 public service workers.
PSAC members are putting Canadians first during this unprecedented crisis. They work around the clock to deliver benefits, and they face the virus head-on every day at our borders, in our federal penitentiaries, in meat packing plants as they inspect our food, and the list goes on. Thousands have also stepped forward to do completely new jobs wherever there has been a need to support the government’s relief efforts. They want to keep working but they also want a fair contract.
Elsewhere in Canada, the need to provide stability and fair compensation to public service workers during this pandemic has been recognized. The government of Ontario bargained and settled with its teachers’ unions in the first weeks of the crisis, and the Quebec government is at the bargaining table with unions representing over 500,000 public sector workers. Even large federal employers like Canada Post reached a tentative agreement with PSAC members just days ago.
And in response to the pandemic the government implemented massive changes at lightning speed across the public service (with the help of PSAC members), yet they have refused to move forward on the comparably modest task of settling a round of bargaining.
There is no reason for the federal government to delay. Canadians need a stable public service that is well supported during this difficult time, and our members certainly deserve to have their basic right to a fair contract respected.
We should also keep in mind that these are the same workers who continue to experience four years of Phoenix pay nightmares and have yet to be compensated for their hardships.
We are urging the federal government to get their negotiators back to the table with a mandate to reach a fair settlement to the benefit of PSAC members and all Canadians.
Date: March 24, 2020
To: The Public Service Pay Centre, Compensation Managers, Heads of Human Resources, Participating Separate Employers and Deputy Ministers
In response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). These measures are designed to help PSHCP members and eligible dependants access health care benefits while at the same time minimizing social interaction with health care professionals. The following temporary measures will be in effect from March 24, 2020, until April 24, 2020, with the possibility of being extended.
All other PSHCP provisions and coverage for members and eligible dependants remain the same during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. For additional information on the PSHCP, please consult Canada.ca/pension-benefits.
For PSHCP members and eligible dependants who experience a medical emergency while travelling on vacation or business, the PSHCP covers up to $500,000 (Canadian) for eligible emergency medical expenses (such as hospitalization and hospital services) in excess of the amount payable by a province or territory to treat an injury or disease that occurs within 40 days from the date of departure.
The limit of 40 days from the date of departure from the province or territory of residence has been extended to 60 days for those who left their province or territory of residence to travel outside of Canada before March 17, 2020, in advance of the Government of Canada’s Travel Health Notice, and are still outside of Canada after March 17, 2020.
This means that if a member or eligible dependant left their province or territory of residence before March 17, 2020, they will have their Emergency Benefit While Travelling coverage extended from 40 to 60 days.
The extension does not apply to those who had already exceeded the 60‑day threshold on March 17, 2020.
In other words, if a member or eligible dependant left their province or territory of residence on or before January 17, 2020, they will not be covered under the new temporary 60-day extension.
The following are not reimbursed under the PSHCP:
For assistance with travel‑related medical emergencies, PSHCP members travelling in Canada or the United States can call Allianz toll‑free at 1-800-667-2883. Plan members in all other countries should call Allianz collect at 519-742-1342.
Under the PSHCP, the dispensing limit for eligible prescription drugs is 100 days for both acute and maintenance drugs. A pharmacist cannot dispense another 100‑day supply of medication before a member has consumed two‑thirds of their current supply.
Until April 24, 2020, the PSHCP will allow pharmacists to exercise their professional discretion to dispense maintenance prescription drugs beyond the 100‑day limit. This measure will reduce trips to pharmacies. However, please note that prescription medications which are in limited supply may not be dispensed in large quantities to ensure those individuals with urgent needs have access to essential drugs.
Maintenance prescription drugs are medications that are commonly used for the treatment of chronic (long-term) conditions. Maintenance drugs are used to help control or manage disease rather than cure it (examples include blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol lowering medications).
The temporary removal of the dispensing limit does not apply to acute medications. Acute prescription drugs refer to medications that will only be used for a short period of time (examples include antibiotics, pain medications, and medications used in an emergency like a heart attack).
Under the Medical Practitioners Benefit, the PSHCP covers services rendered by practitioners such as psychologists. These practitioners must be registered, licensed or certified to practice in the province or territory where they work.
To be eligible for coverage for some services, members require a prescription from a physician.
Until April 24, 2020, social workers will be included as mental health professionals along with psychologists for all PSHCP members and eligible dependants, regardless of where they are located.
To be covered for services by a social worker all claims must be sent by mail using a completed PSHCP Claim Form (PDF, 614 KB) for Supplementary Coverage or a PSHCP Claim Form for Out-of-Country Claims for Comprehensive Coverage. Attach supporting documentation (original receipts, bills, invoices, physician or practitioner statements, and/or questionnaires, etc.). Mail the form to the address indicated on the form along with the supporting documentation.
Until April 24, 2020, a prescription from a physician is not required for mental health or physiotherapy services.
In these unpresidented times, I want to take the time to thank all CRA employees who are working hard to help Canadians. Everyone is doing a great job and you are appreciated!
Please see this article regarding the processing of EI claims and the first day roll out of CREB.
The federal government intends to begin accepting applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by April 6. As part of the plan to process this unprecedented volume of work, a great deal of additional staff will be needed to answer calls from Canadians trying to access financial support.
In response to this urgent need, thousands of PSAC members from Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have volunteered to move from their regular duties and transition into these new positions.
“Our members are doing everything they can to help Canadians during this critical time, including taking on new and additional responsibilities to fill these important roles,” said PSAC National President, Chris Aylward.
PSAC members have expanded their commitments significantly during this crisis despite being without a contract for years. Service Canada and CRA employees have not had a wage increase for almost three and four years respectively.
“Federal public service workers know that they’re the backbone of government support and they’re stepping up to the plate to deliver for Canadians.”
Please Note that this opportunity is for non-critical CRA employees. Should you wish to participate in this opportunity please send and email to Steven.Montisano@cra-arc.gc.ca or contact your Team Leader for further information.
Click Here to view the UTE’s take on this request
English version *** La version française suit ***
Help us help Canadians!
The Agency is taking a people first approach in realigning its resources to ensure that all Canadians and businesses are supported if they are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our guiding principles, notably being people centric, supportive, and one team, are fundamental in helping us do exactly that.
If you are a CRA employee who is currently at home, your job is not considered to be critical at this time, and would like to help with the CRA’s critical services for Canadians, listen up!
We need you to become a temporary call centre agent!
In early April, Canadians will be able to apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB is a historic initiative, aimed at providing financial assistance to an unprecedented amount of Canadians in a record amount of time, so they and their families can withstand the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the new benefit becomes available, we expect a surge in calls from Canadians eager to get access to financial relief. We want our lines to be fully accessible and for callers to interact with a real person on the other end of the line. We need your help to respond to general questions about the new benefit, so as to free up our call centre agents to respond to the more complex and account specific calls.
It doesn’t matter where you are, what branch or region you work in. If you are a CRA employee, we could really use your help!
What you need
· Internet access at home
· A mobile phone or landline
· A dedicated quiet space in your home, where you can work without interruptions
· The ability to speak English, French, or both
· A CRA device (like a laptop) with secure remote access
Note: If you don’t have the required equipment but are interested in helping out, please let us know and we will see how we might be able to equip you.
What to expect
· We are seeking a two-week commitment as a starting point to answer calls, beginning in April 2020.
· You will be provided with the information required, including access to a dedicated area on InfoZone with help guides and the necessary scripts to be used when responding to answer basic, general enquiry type questions related to the CERB. Any questions that are complex, or account specific in nature, are to be transferred to experienced call centre agents.
· You will have access to dedicated resources to assist you throughout your work period.
· Four hour work periods between Monday and Friday from 9am to 5pm. You will be asked to identify your preferences.
As public service employees, our duty and mission is to provide services to Canadians. As CRA employees, we have made a commitment to be trusted, fair, and helpful by putting people first; standing firm behind our vision has never been more important.
If you are able to help, please contact your branch or regional coordinator by noon Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Assessment, Benefit, and Service Branch
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Assessment, Benefit, and Service Branch
Managers should make sure that employees who do not have access to email receive this information.
Version française *** The English version precedes ***
Aidez-nous à aider les Canadiens!
Dans une optique des gens d’abord, l’Agence veut réaffecter ses ressources afin de s’assurer que les Canadiens et les entreprises aient le support nécessaire advenant qu’ils éprouvent des difficultés financières dues à la COVID-19. Nos principes directeurs selon lesquels nous sommes une seule et grande équipe, axée sur les gens, et solidaire nous portent automatiquement à aider les autres.
Si vous êtes actuellement à la maison parce que votre travail n’est pas considéré comme étant critique, mais que vous aimeriez aider les services critiques de l’Agence pour les Canadiens, restez à l’écoute!
Nous avons besoin de vous pour devenir un agent de centre d’appels temporaire!
Au début avril, les Canadiens pourront faire une demande pour recevoir la prestation canadienne d’urgence. Cette prestation est une initiative d’envergure historique qui offrira une aide financière à un nombre sans précédent de Canadiens, et ce, pour une durée de temps record. Les familles canadiennes pourront ainsi surmonter plus aisément les impacts financiers qu’engendre la pandémie COVID-19.
Au moment où cette prestation sera disponible, nous nous attendons à une grande augmentation du nombre d’appels venant de Canadiens qui souhaitent obtenir un certain soulagement financier. Nous tenons à ce que nos lignes soient disponibles et que les appelants puissent discuter avec une personne à l’autre bout du fil. Nous avons besoin de votre aide pour répondre à des questions d’ordre général au sujet de la nouvelle prestation. De cette façon, les agents de centre d’appels expérimentés pourront se concentrer à répondre aux questions plus complexes et à celles concernant des dossiers spécifiques.
Peu importe, où vous êtes, ou pour quelle direction générale ou région vous travaillez, si vous êtes un employé de l’Agence, vous pouvez nous aider!
Ce dont vous avez besoin
· une connexion internet à la maison.
· Un téléphone cellulaire ou un téléphone à partir d’une ligne terrestre.
· Un espace tranquille à la maison où vous pouvez travailler sans interruption.
· La capacité de vous exprimer en anglais, en français ou dans les deux langues.
· Un appareil de l’Agence comme un ordinateur portable, doté d’un accès à distance protégé
À noter : si vous n’avez pas l’équipement nécessaire, mais que vous êtes intéressé à aider, faites-le-nous savoir et nous vérifierons s’il est possible de vous en fournir.
À quoi vous attendre
· Nous recherchons des gens qui puissent offrir un engagement minimum de deux semaines pour répondre aux appels, et ce, à compter du début avril 2020.
· Nous vous fournirons les informations nécessaires, y compris l’accès à InfoZone pour suivre un scénario afin de répondre aux questions de base et générales en lien avec la prestation canadienne d’urgence. Si les questions sont complexes, ou bien s’il est question d’un dossier en particulier, elles seront transférées à des agents de centre d’appels expérimentés.
· Vous pourrez également compter sur des employés désignés pour vous soutenir tout au long de votre période de travail.
· Des périodes de travail d’une durée de quatre heures du lundi au vendredi de 9h à 17h. Vous aurez l’occasion de nous donner vos préférences.
En tant que fonctionnaire, notre rôle et notre mission sont d’offrir des services aux Canadiens. À titre d’employés de l’Agence, nous avons pris l’engagement suivant : pour les gens d’abord : serviable, juste et digne de confiance, et c’est dans une période comme celle-ci que l’on doit tous ce rappeler l’importance de notre engagement.
Si vous souhaitez offrir votre aide, veuillez contacter votre coordonnateur de direction générale ou de région avant le mardi 31 mars 2020 à midi.
Nous vous remercions.
La commissaire déléguée,
Direction générale de cotisation, de prestation et de service
La sous-commissaire adjointe
de la Direction générale de cotisation, de prestation et de service,
et championne nationale de l’équité en matière d’emploi, de la diversité et de l’inclusion
Les gestionnaires doivent s’assurer que les employés qui n’ont pas accès à leurs courriels reçoivent cette information
As the government has moved to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the definition of “critical” services has played a significant role in determining which operations must continue uninterrupted, and by extension which ones must continue being conducted from the workplace rather than home.
Communication from government employers and media has used terms like “essential” alongside words like “critical” and it has created some confusion for members looking to understand how their managers are making decisions and how it will impact working conditions. It has also been clear to many that telework directives have not been applied universally or at the same speed across departments and agencies in the public service. It is extremely worrying for many since this will have significant implications on their health & safety, family life, and overall wellbeing.
We can confirm that PSAC President Chris Aylward and the heads of other federal unions have asked Treasury Board to clarify the meaning of the term “critical service” and how managers are to make staffing decisions based on these designations. Treasury Board has agreed to address this in their upcoming directives.
Essential and critical are not the same thing
The term essential services is meant to be used to describe which employees must continue their work in the context of collective bargaining and potential labour disruptions. Whether a worker has been designated as essential in the past has no part in determining whether they must work from home or the workplace during this global pandemic.
What if I disagree with my manager’s decision?
Some members have reported that they have been asked to continue their operations from their workplace but that they feel they could just as easily do the work from home. In other cases they have been asked to go into the workplace to continue work they don’t think is necessary for critical government operations.
In these cases PSAC would urge members who cannot reach a resolution with their manager to speak with their local union or a representative from their component union for support.
If you are asked to physically go into work you and feel that the appropriate precautions aren’t being taken by the employer, you have the right to refuse dangerous work.
Hello Sisters and Brothers,
As a result of the many discussions we have had with the employer over the past few days, please find below a message from the CRA Commissioners’ Office.
As you will see, additional measures are being put in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and to significantly reduce the number of employees who will be working in the various CRA offices.
Benefit payments to beneficiaries and related functions deemed essential will be maintained but with a reduced presence in the workplace.
Agency offices will not necessarily close.
But it is clear that tax centres will see a significant reduction in the number of employees coming to their premises.
Initial (T1) returns will not be processed as usual. Only those transactions necessary for recipients to obtain their benefits will still be done.
As for the call centres, their capacity will be significantly reduced and work will be done almost exclusively remotely.
We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will therefore be in daily contact with the employer.
We will of course keep you informed of any important developments.
Finally, I would like to inform you that we will be issuing a message to our members as soon as possible.
Bonjour consoeurs et confrères,
Suite aux nombreuses discussions que nous avons eu avec l’employeur au cours des derniers jours, veuillez trouver ci-dessous un message provenant du bureau des commissaires de l’ARC.
Comme vous le constaterez, des mesures supplémentaires sont mises en place afin de diminuer le risque de propagation de la COVID-19 et de réduire de façon significative le nombre d’employés qui travailleront dans les différents bureaux de l’ARC.
Les versements de prestations aux bénéficiaires et les fonctions connexes jugées essentielles seront maintenus mais avec une présence réduite sur les lieux de travail.
Les bureaux de l’Agence ne vont pas nécessairement fermer leurs portes.
Mais il est clair que les centres fiscaux verront une réduction importante des employés qui viennent dans leurs locaux.
Les déclarations initiales (T1) ne seront pas traités comme d’habitude. Seules les opérations nécessaires aux bénéficiaires pour obtenir leurs prestations seront encore effectuées.
Quant aux centres d’appels, leur capacité sera considérablement réduite et le travail sera effectué presque exclusivement à distance.
Nous continuerons de suivre l’évolution de la situation de très près et allons donc avoir des contacts quotidiens avec l’employeur.
Nous vous tiendrons évidemment au courant de tout développement important.
Finalement, je tiens à vous informer que nous émettrons un message à l’intention de nos membres le plus rapidement possible.
En toute solidarité,
Président national / National President
Syndicat des employé-e-s de l’Impôt / Union of Taxation Employees
English version *** La version française suit ***
Like other departments and agencies across the federal government, the CRA has fundamental responsibility to continue to provide certain critical services to Canadians, and to contribute to the wider Government of Canada pandemic effort. If some of us are being asked to continue reporting to work, either in the workplace or remotely, it is because we are providing a critical services to Canadians. Your efforts during this difficult time are appreciated.
Since our last message, the situation has continued to evolve. Today, we are announcing further changes to workplace restrictions to ensure your health and safety, and to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Effective today, March 17, 2020, and until April 5, 2020:
As more remote working equipment becomes available, over the next 24 hours, managers will be reaching out to those of you who are impacted by these changes to ensure you are set up and able to work remotely. If you have any questions, please reach out to your manager.
This latest direction reflects our discussions with our union colleagues, who, together with CRA senior management, have been considering how best to implement increased measures to ensure the health and safety of those employees who need to perform critical functions in the workplace, while helping to minimize the spread of the virus. We are grateful for their ongoing collaboration.
Many of us have been continuing to work since COVID-19, some of us in the workplace, others remotely, and many at a more intense pace as we continue to monitor developments and manage the Agency’s response. We wish to thank you, our employees, for your understanding and your continued dedication to service to Canadians as we continue to adjust to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.
We recognize this situation is causing a great deal of stress for many of you and your friends and families. Please remember you and your family members can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program if you need support.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will share updates with you as information becomes available.
Canada Revenue Agency – Selected as one of the
To protect the environment, please read this message on your computer screen.
Managers should make sure that staff who do not have access to email receive this information.
Version française *** The English version precedes ***
Comme d’autres ministères et agences au sein du gouvernement fédéral, l’ARC a une responsabilité fondamentale de continuer à fournir des services essentiels aux Canadiens et de contribuer à l’effort plus large du Gouvernement du Canada en ce qui concerne la pandémie. Si certains d’entre nous devons continuer soit à nous présenter au travail, soit de travailler à distance, c’est parce que nous fournissons un service essentiel aux Canadiens. Vos efforts pendant ces circonstances difficiles sont appréciés.
Depuis notre dernier message, la situation a évolué. Aujourd’hui, nous annonçons d’autres changements aux restrictions relatives à notre milieu de travail afin d’assurer votre santé et sécurité, et de minimiser le risque de propagation de COVID-19. À compter d’aujourd’hui, le 17 mars 2020, et jusqu’au 5 avril 2020 :
Au fur et à mesure que l’équipement permettant de travailler à distance deviendra disponible, au cours des 24 prochaines heures, les gestionnaires contacteront ceux d’entre vous qui seront affectés par ces changements pour s’assurer que vous êtes en mesure de travailler à distance. Si vous avez des questions, veuillez communiquer avec votre gestionnaire. .
Cette directive reflète les discussions que nous avons eues avec nos partenaires syndicaux qui, tout comme la haute gestion de l’ARC, considèrent les meilleures façons de mettre en œuvre des mesures accrues afin d’assurer la santé et la sécurité des employés qui doivent effectuer des services essentiels en milieu de travail, tout en contribuant à minimiser la propagation du virus. Nous apprécions leur collaboration.
Plusieurs d’entre nous avons continué à travailler depuis la déclaration d’une pandémie, certains d’entre nous en milieu de travail, d’autres à distance, et plusieurs à un rythme plus intense alors que nous surveillons les développements et contribuons à répondre à la situation. Nous tenons à vous remercier, vous, nos employés, pour votre compréhension et votre dévouement au service des Canadiens pendant que nous continuer à réagir à cette situation en constante évolution.
Nous reconnaissons que cette situation cause beaucoup de stress pour plusieurs d’entre vous, pour vos amis et les membres de votre famille. N’oubliez pas que vous et les membres de votre famille pouvez communiquer avec le Programme d’aide aux employés si vous avez besoin d’appui.
Nous continuons de surveiller la situation et ferons d’autres mises à jour à mesure que l’information sera disponible.
L’Agence du revenu du Canada – Choisie comme l’un des 100 meilleurs employeurs au Canada pour la troisième année consécutive (disponible en anglais seulement)!
Protégez l’environnement : lisez ce courriel à l’écran au lieu de l’imprimer.
Les gestionnaires doivent s’assurer que les employés qui n’ont pas accès au courriel reçoivent cette information.
Please view the page for updated information on