Letter to members June 19, 2020

June 19, 2020

Hello UVAE Members

I hope you are all doing well and staying safe during these times. We have been in these unprecedented times for 14 weeks and unfortunately no one can predict when we will go back to a new norm. Our country has seen and continues to see many changes everyday. You have all seen and been a part of the many changes in the way of providing services to our Veterans during this pandemic. As your National President, I am very proud of your dedication to our Veterans.

We know that times have been hard for everyone, we are all working in different times, on couches, kitchen counters, kitchen islands and makeshift desks. We have been discussing the equipment needs with the Department for all employees while working from home. It is important to know that if you require equipment or anything to be able to work safely at home, we strongly encourage you to discuss your needs with your manager. Please contact your local union representatives if you require any guidance or support.  

UVAE and PSAC does not dictate the return to the common workplace; the return is based on COVID-19, Health Authorities and Treasury Board. PSAC is actively discussing this topic with Treasury Board to ensure a safe and healthy return for all PSAC members across Canada and this will vary by region, department, individual circumstances and other potential factors. UVAE is actively working to discuss concerns and safety at varying levels in our department.

Though there are still no definite return to common workplace dates, we know that some members are eager to return to the workplace and some members have fear and uncertainty of returning to the workplace. UVAE has been meeting with VAC Senior Management and other stakeholders to discuss the varying plans, concerns and next steps of a return to common workplace keeping the safety and health of our members at top priority. We continue to work in the best interests of all our members.

As noted on the PSAC National site to have a successful return to workplace, “the health, safety, wellness, and privacy rights of public service workers must be at the centre of the return to workplace plan and that the reflect the fact that until a COVID-19 vaccine is created, the virus poses an ongoing threat to the physical and mental health of workers.”

UVAE has been working with VAC to ensure that Local Health & Safety Committees and the National Health and Safety Policy Committee are involved in the discussions to ensure that we are looking at all Safety and Health perspectives for the multiple variances in the buildings and offices across Canada.

It is imperative for all union activists who are part of the Union Management Consultation Committees (LMCC’s) and on the local Occupational Health and Safety Committee as Co-Chairs and union committee members to be part of the local plan discussions. UVAE is working with the Department on the overall general plans. However, every office, every building is going to have different needs given the location, other tenants, public access, elevators and therefore additional considerations and varying measures will be needed. Members in those offices are the best placed to provide input into the specific direct office needs for a safe and healthy plan.

UVAE invites all members to read the PSAC National Website on What is a Successful return to workplace on what should be within the checklist.

UVAE must be satisfied at all levels that VAC has taken all necessary measures to ensure that we feel it is safe for our members to return to their offices.

The Employee Assistance Program is available to you and your family 7 days a week 24 hours a day. We are entitled to 8 (eight) EAP Sessions per subject matter. Please note that UVAE has been working with the Department with a request to look at increasing the number of EAP Sessions available to VAC Employees. I am happy to note that the Department is connecting with Health Canada with regards to this request. I will provide more information once we have received the full response to our request.

To protect the health and safety of the employees of UVAE, the National Office remains closed, however, the staff and elected officers are readily available to assist the membership while working from home during this pandemic.

“This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.” – Dr. Bonnie Henry

In Solidarity,

Virginia Vaillancourt,
National President,
Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees