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Omicron forces feds to pause back-to-office plans for public servants


A statement from Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said the new guidelines asked departments and agencies to “pause any planned increases to building occupancy,” review current in-office levels and consider increasing the amount of remote work.

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The federal government is asking its departments to pause their return-to-office plans in light of the emerging hazard presented by the easily-spread Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

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In a statement Thursday evening, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier pointed to updated occupational health guidelines from Health Canada.

She said the new guidelines asked departments and agencies to “pause any planned increases to building occupancy,” review current in-office levels and consider increasing the amount of remote work.

The federal government employs about 140,000 in the national capital region and leases roughly 38 million square feet of office space in the area. The pandemic has forced a huge proportion of public servants to work at home, leading to widespread economic harm to businesses that depend on a downtown workforce and canyons of empty buildings.7

Fortier, also the MP for the riding of Ottawa-Vanier, said the Health Canada guidance recommended all employees in “core public administration” receive vaccine booster shots, wear masks in shared spaces and avoid non-essential international travel.



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