Passport officers urged to 'take time off'

Passport officers urged to “take time off”

UPGRADE DAY

Passport officers and other Service Canada employees, completely overwhelmed by the demand of the past few weeks, have been made aware by email of “the importance of taking time off, which makes them more productive for the 'organization.  

The Journal has obtained a screenshot of a message from the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to the intent of its employees.

With an image reminiscent of holidays, with palm trees and suitcases, the ministry reminds us that it is important to rest. 

“Taking your holidays is an investment not only for your mental and physical health”, is it written. 

The ministry then adds that “it also brings direct and measurable benefits to the performance of your organization”. 

Joined by the Journal, the Public Service Alliance union was flabbergasted by this communication. 

“I would have preferred to be encouraged and told that there will be solutions, but no, it's nonsense,” said Yvon Barrière, regional executive vice-president of the Alliance for Quebec, during an interview with le Journal

During the last few days, the latter pointed out that several agents sometimes work until very late at night.  

“People finish at half past two in the morning and they work on Saturdays. They take their professionalism to heart,” assures Mr. Barrière. 

Very few hires

Bad news for travellers, the union does not sees no return to normal for several months and the training of new agents will only begin at the beginning of August. we will finally be able to return to normal and reduce the required deadlines between 15 to 20 days for requests”, he underlined. 

Speaking at the microphone of QUB radio, the latter denounced the lack of foresight of the ministry responsible, which now places office employees in a hostile work situation.

“In the Laval offices, there is has employees who have been insulted. One of them even got spat on! We live in extraordinary situations. If the department had taken the initiative as it should last fall, we wouldn't have this problem at the moment,” he lamented.

According to him, the union has asked for more hires from last year, but management didn't budge. 

“These are shots. They mainly hired citizen service agents who do data entry, they are not passport agents,” he explains.

The Saint-Laurent office would have lost about fifteen passport officers since the start of the pandemic. In the strategic center of the Guy-Favreau complex in Montreal, 24 out of 39 agents have left.