Despite calls from the Prime Minister and provincial and local leaders and health authorities to stay at home and to practice social distancing many employees of Veterans Affairs Canada across the country are being forced to physically go to work. This is happening even as the Veterans Affairs Canada offices themselves are closed and all requests for services to veterans are being handled remotely.
Their union, the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees, called this a reckless act on behalf of the management of the department. “Why are they forcing certain employees to go to work and not allowing them the same treatment as other federal government employees?” asked Virginia Vaillancourt, National President of the union. “The direction from Treasury Board is clear. All employees should be allowed to work from home. We demand the same for ALL our members,” said Vaillancourt.
The union has been pressing the department for weeks to enact these measures to protect their employees against the rising risk of the COVID-19 virus but their requests have fallen on deaf ears. “All over the country employees of Veterans’ Affairs Canada are being unnecessarily put at risk because of management inaction and ineptitude. We need them to act immediately on the situation and order everyone in the department to work from home,” said Vaillancourt.
We are calling on the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs and the Prime Minister to act today to help protect the health and safety of their own employees. “Failure to act is a dereliction of their duty and we are holding them responsible for their well-being,” said Vaillancourt. “Our members can continue to work remotely and from home to serve the needs of our veterans, but in turn they need their personal health and safety to be protected as well.”