Federal officials will have to find child care before they return to the office

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Federal civil servants will have to find child care before returning to the office

Canada's Parliament, Ottawa

The return-to-office announcement for federal public servants last week forced some parents scrambling to find daycare.

Workers have been instructed to return to the office from January and will be required to be there two to three times a week by March, with a transition beginning in mid-January.

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, who oversees civil service administration, told reporters last week that remote work was necessary during the pandemic, but the measure had created inconsistencies. and a lack of fairness.

President of the Treasury Board of Canada, Mona Fortier (archives)

Asked about the existence of data to support the decision, Ms. Fortier replied that the instruction stemmed from a concern for fairness and justice within all departments.

Experts believe, however, that several public servants will face childcare hurdles before a return to in-person work.

Michael Halinski, associate professor of organizational behavior at Metropolitan University of Toronto, criticizes Ms. Fortier for the lack of a clear strategic framework. According to him, government employees will have a hard time making the transition if a strategy behind Ms. Fortier's justification is not clearly communicated.

Without a strategy and arguments justified in defending this decision, I think that employees will hesitate or refuse the idea of ​​returning to the office, he underlines.

Child care centers in Canada are rare, says Marni Flaherty, interim president and CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation. A national child care strategy is in place and funding is planned to support it, she said, but the demands are putting even more pressure on an already saturated sector.

For federal public servants, finding a child care space will be a big challenge, Flaherty says, adding that there aren't enough services for families on time

Tania Marcil, a federal civil servant from Halifax, points out that she preferred spending time with her three children during the holidays rather than spending her time at the telephoned child care services before the policy took effect.

She adds that she had heard from other officials express their difficulties in resolving the problem of the custody of their children, and hopes that the federal government will set up a program to help people in their posi tion.

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