World News

Canada public servants will still work remotely even as offices reopen - minister

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Some of Canada’s nearly 290,000 federal employees will gradually return to their offices as coronavirus restrictions ease, but many will keep working remotely, the president of the Treasury Board said on Monday.

Government employees have been mostly working from home since mid-March when public health authorities shut down many businesses and offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Now the 13 provinces and territories are slowly restarting as the contagion slows.

“We can have a public service that can be working remotely while serving Canadians very efficiently,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said in a news conference.

“We’re not necessarily going back to where we were,” he said, adding that there would be more teleworking by public servants in the future “than there was before the crisis”.

Duclos, who oversees a large swath of the public administration, said productivity had increased for some of those working remotely as the government managed to quickly ramp up its work-from-home capabilities.

The public service doubled the number of secure network connections it could access to 280,000 in just three months, Duclos said, and 100,000 employees can now participate in different virtual meetings simultaneously.

The capacity for teleconferencing tripled to some 5 million minutes per day from 1.6 million minutes previously, Duclos said.

“We’ve started really reflecting on the number of offices and the number of office spaces that we want over the next few years,” he said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by David Gregorio