Ontario Public Service employees must return to in-person work by April 4
March 2, 2022
Cristina Tenaglia and Chris Herhalt
Employees of the Ontario Public Service (OPS) will begin returning to work in person this week voluntarily and are expected to be in the office three days per week starting April 4.
According to a memo sent out by Ontario Secretary of Cabinet Michelle DiEmanuele on Tuesday, roughly 29,000 government civil servants can return to the office on their own terms today, but the hybrid arrangement is not permanent.
“This is a temporary hybrid model. Work is underway with leaders, employees, and bargaining agents on the future of work,” DiEmanuele wrote in the memo. “We are doing this work with intentionality and thoughtful planning. We will take an approach that is adaptable, sustainable, equitable and enables us to deliver excellent public services that Ontarians rely on.”
The move impacts more than 60,000 employees in the line ministries of the Ontario government and a number of its agencies and Crown corporations.
About half of them have been working remotely for part or all of the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately 29,000 OPS employees began a gradual return to work in Nov. 2021 but that was reversed totally after the arrival of the Omicron variant.
The province says it will keep proof of vaccination policies or regular rapid antigen testing requirements for the unvaccinated in place until April 4, except for in “high-risk congregate settings.”
DiEmanuele said that masks will continue to be required anywhere outside of a worker’s desk, “until masking restrictions are lifted” generally across the province.
She wrote Tuesday that about 31,000 OPS employees worked in-person, at their pre-pandemic posts throughout the pandemic.
The province formally ended mandatory use of the COVID-19 vaccine passport system in publicly-accessible settings today, and also relaxed a number of remaining capacity restrictions.Masking remains mandatory in all indoor public settings, but Ontario Premier Doug Ford suggested Monday that may end as early as later this month.