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COVID-19 Info for Employees

The global situation is changing rapidly. The content of this communique is subject to change as the situation evolves. New or amended information will be distributed as necessary.

    May 3, 2021

    A Message to Employees from the Deputy Minister of Finance

    Like all of you, I was saddened to hear on Saturday night that the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) had declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at N.J. MacPherson school in Yellowknife. The outbreak then led to a decision to close all Yellowknife, Ndilǫ̨, and Dettah schools until further notice.

    Many Government of the Northwest Territories employees will be affected by this outbreak. Some people will be required to stay at home in isolation for 14 days, some people will need to balance their work with the need to be home with young children who are remote learning and others will continue to be able to come to work if they are comfortable doing so, depending on their family situation, and their vaccination status.

    Everyone’s situation will be unique, and you should discuss yours with your supervisor as soon as possible. The following general guidance can be applied in a variety of situations and questions can be addressed to you supervisor.

    • If you can work remotely during your self-isolation, you will be supported to do so, and there is no need to enter any leave in Peoplesoft.
    • If you are unable to work remotely during your self-isolation because your position is not suitable for remote work, you should discuss your situation with your supervisor and use special leave (code: SPECIAL LEAVE – SELF ISOLATION).
    • If you are unable to work remotely during your self-isolation because you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, you should notify your supervisor and use sick leave (code: SICK LEAVE – COVID-19).
    • If you are unable to work remotely during your self-isolation because you are providing care to someone in your household who is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, you should notify your supervisor and use special leave (code: SPECIAL LEAVE – SELF ISOLATION)

    If you are in your worksite, please continue to be mindful of the mitigation measures in place at your worksite and take care to socially distance and always wear a mask in all common spaces.

    Please remember that if Public Health has not been in contact to ask that you be tested, and you do not have symptoms, there is no reason to ask for testing at this time. The testing centre is currently very busy, and appointments are needed for those who have been identified as contacts or have COVID symptoms.

    Here are some simple, healthy habits you can follow to keep yourself and your community safe:

    • Prioritize physical distance of at least six feet between yourself and others.
    • Wear your mask when you’re in public to show you care for your community. If everyone does it, we’ll all be protecting each other a little bit more.
    • Stay home if you’re even just a little bit sick.
    • Call the local health centre and get tested for COVID-19 at the first sign of symptoms.
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Self-isolate whenever you’re required to – and stick to your plan the whole way through.
    • Keep your coughs and sneezes to yourself.

    I know the idea of COVID-19 in our community is scary and feeling anxiety in this situation is natural and valid. At this time, the best thing we can do to keep each other safe is help each other, especially those who are self-isolating; support each other through empathy and kindness; and stick to the public health measures that we know work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    If you are struggling through this time of uncertainty, the GNWT has supports in place for you through the Employee Family Assistance Program. For immediate and confidential assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-844-880-9142 or visit workhealthlife.com.

    We are all going through this together – and we need to be kind to each other to stay strong as we respond.

    - Sandy Kalgutkar, Deputy Minister of Finance

    August 4, 2020

    Managing your information and technology tools as you return to the office

    As we return back to our offices there are a number of important tasks you need to do to ensure the safety and security of the GNWT’s network and records.

    You can review these tasks at the Technology Service Centre website. You can also contact the TSC at 867-920-4408 or TSCservicedesk@gov.nt.ca.

    Please note: If this is your first time visiting the TSC website, you will be required to sign in.

    July 10, 2020

    A Message from the Minister of Finance: Planning to Return GNWT Employees to the Worksite

    First, I want to take a moment to thank you all for your continued hard work over the last several months.  As the Minister Responsible for the Public Service, and as a resident of this territory, I have been very proud of the dedication and commitment I have witnessed by public servants during what has been a very tumultuous and difficult time.  The work you do, whether it has been done from home or in the workplace, has helped ensure our government’s timely response to the pandemic and continues to be very much appreciated.

    We have now been in Phase 2 of Emerging Wisely for several weeks, and the senior management teams in your departments have been developing and finalizing plans to bring employees safely back to the worksite. As previously announced to you in May, we have been taking a planned and prudent approach to returning employees to the worksite, beginning with those offices where there has been an interruption in service, and where we could comply with CPHO requirements concerning worksite capacity, physical distancing, hand-washing and infection control. 

    While we continue to implement this approach – which has seen approximately 60% of staff return to their worksites – we are also working on plans for bringing remaining GNWT staff back to their worksites safely and in accordance with public health requirements. 

    Because every worksite is physically different and staffed at different levels, it is necessary for your management teams to consider and plan for each worksite separately. As part of this planning, each management team will have to file an Application to Vary from Public Health Order Requirements with the Chief Public Health Officer that identifies what arrangements are being made to limit exposure to COVID-19 for our staff and clients for individual worksites.

    These applications will need to be reviewed and approved by the CPHO and the Department of Finance before remaining staff will be returned to each worksite.

    Over the coming weeks, as plans are approved to be implemented, we are going to start seeing the staggered return to the worksite of employees across the public service.  When the plan to return to your worksite is ready to be implemented, your manager or supervisor will reach out to you and your coworkers to talk about your worksite specific plan. They will provide you with the details of the plan for your worksite, when you are scheduled to return to the worksite, and what safety precautions have been put in place to ensure your safety in the worksite.

    While we anticipate the return of most public servants to the worksite over the next 4-6 weeks, we recognize that the personal situations and circumstances of individual employees must be taken into account.  There will be employees who cannot return to the worksite as a result of health issues that put them at increased risk, or because they have children at home who require care.  These employees will be permitted to continue to work from home until their circumstances change.  If you are an employee dealing with one of these issues, please contact your supervisor to discuss your personal situation.

    Thank you again for all of your hard work over the last several months,

    -Minister Caroline Wawzonek
     

    June 18, 2020

    Choosing not to travel outside the NWT and Nunavut is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the territory. The Government of the Northwest Territories strongly urges all employees to avoid all non-essential, out-of-territory travel over the summer. However, we also recognize that many employees may still choose to travel outside NWT and Nunavut over the coming months.

    All GNWT employees are subject to the Orders of the Chief Public Health Officer. As such, all employees who travel outside the NWT and Nunavut will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the territory. Like all residents, any employee who leaves the territories will also need to have an isolation plan approved by Protect NWT in place for their return.

    Effective July 1st, any employee who plans to leave the NWT and Nunavut for non-essential travel will be required to request annual, lieu or leave without pay to cover the 14-day isolation period if they are unable to work remotely upon their return. If you are currently outside of the NWT, you will continue to be able to access special leave for the isolation period if you are unable to work remotely upon your return.

    For more information is available in the Frequently Asked Questions. You can also refer to COVID-19 Leave Requirements for Travel Outside the NWT and Nunavut.
     

    May 26, 2020

    As our Government continues to mobilize to support the response to COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories, several areas still requiring additional support have been identified within the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) and the Emergency Management Organization (EMO).  

    In order to support this effort, employees who are in non-essential positions are being asked to speak with their managers or supervisors to confirm their status and eligibility. Afterwards they can use the simple online tool to identify their interest in being reassigned to support response activities.  A list of areas requiring additional support is available for review.

    Once you have identified yourself as interested, the Department of Finance will work with your Manager/Supervisor to confirm that your home position is non-essential and that you are available to be reassigned.  If a reassignment opportunity is identified for you, you will be contacted by a representative from the Department of Finance to arrange the details.

    Any employee who is reassigned will continue to receive the pay and benefits of their home position. The terms and conditions of employment attached to your home position remain unchanged.  Any required and approved overtime will be paid at the applicable overtime rates. If required, duty travel will be paid at the applicable rates.

    Resources

    May 15, 2020

    Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) decisions on how and when employees should return to their worksites will continue to be based onthe guidance and direction of the CPHO when making decisions. Determining when employees should return to the worksite will be based on various factors, such as what services to residents are required as we move through the phases of returning to normal operations and ensuring that the employee is able to work in an environment that meets all safety protocols.

    As an employer, the GNWT will continue to be flexible and will take the individual circumstances of our employees into consideration when planning for the return to the worksite. 

    If you are an employee who will be returning to the worksite, management will be in touch about the approved plan to return safely and will provide you with a return date.  Until management is in contact with you about a return date, you will continue to work from home. 


    May 12, 2020

    Today, the NWT's Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) released ‘Emerging Wisely’ which outlines where we are as a territory in our response to COVID-19, and how the CPHO intends to safely, gradually and wisely ease restrictions.  COVID-19 is going to remain a risk as long as there is community spread in southern Canada, and some restrictions are going to have to stay in place until the pandemic is over. These include travel restrictions, self-isolation protocols, physical distancing in public places, wearing non-medical masks in public, hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, and strong infection controls.

    The GNWT’s priority remains ensuring the safety of our employees and the public we serve.  With this in mind, the Department of Finance is actively developing guidance and templates that follow the direction included in ‘Emerging Wisely’ that will be used by departments to plan for a gradual, safe and orderly return of employees to the worksite over the coming weeks and months. Even after the territory has moved into what is referred to in ‘Emergency Wisely’ as ‘Relaxing Phase 2: Next Steps’, many employees will continue to work from home.  When it comes time for employees to return to their worksites, their managers will reach out and make them aware of what the specific plans are for their worksite and unit. 

    We also recognize that the personal situations of individual employees will vary as a result of their personal health status and/or the need to continue to care for children who are not in school or summer camps.  As work units begin to plan for and implement the gradual return to the worksite of employees, consideration will be given to the individual circumstances of each employee.  Employees should have discussions with their managers about their particular situations so that managers can plan appropriately.

    If you are struggling through this time of uncertainty, the GNWT has supports in place for you through the Employee Family Assistance Program. For immediate and confidential assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-844-880-9142 or visit workhealthlife.com.


    May 11, 2020

    The GNWT will be able to recover costs directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal government. The Department of Finance, Office of the Comptroller General will coordinate the tracking, reporting, and recovery of costs from the federal government on behalf of all departments and public agencies.

    Starting May 12, 2020, all employees who have been re-deployed or re-assigned as a part of the GNWT’s COVID-10 response will need to enter their time into HRIS using COVID-19 specific codes.

    For more information, please refer to Tracking and Recovering COVID-19 Related Costs.


    April 20, 2020

    The GNWT is currently working hard to adapt our operations to remote work and to effectively  respond to COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories.  We recognize that this is a difficult and uncertain time for our employees. While social media can provide a way to connect with each other in a time when we are all being asked to stay away from one another, it can also be a source of rumours and misinformation. The GNWT would like all of our employees to know that at this time workforce reduction measures are not being considered as a part of the GNWT response to COVID-19.  


    March 25, 2020

    In response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). These measures are designed to help PSHCP members and eligible dependants access health care benefits while at the same time minimizing social interaction with health care professionals. The following temporary measures will be in effect from March 24, 2020, until April 24, 2020, with the possibility of being extended.  For more information please see the communique from the Treasury Board Secretariat.


    March 17, 2020

    The GNWT is committed to following the advice from our Chief Public Health Officer on the importance of implementing social distancing measures where possible to assist in mitigating and containing the possible risk to the health of our employees and to all the residents of the NWT.

    Therefore, as of Thursday, March 19 the majority of GNWT employees will be asked to work from home until further notice.

    • Employees who have been deemed to be providing critical services requiring on site presence will be expected to report to work in person as normal;
      • Any employee who has been deemed critical and requiring onsite presence will be contacted by  9:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 by management.
    • All other employees will be asked to work from home as of Thursday, March 19;
      • Managers will be contacting you and will be as flexible as possible while ensuring continued essential government operations and services to residents of the NWT.
      • Your manager will discuss with you the feasibility, logistics, and expectations of working from home.
      •  We can assure you that all employees regardless of the particular circumstance will continue to be paid through regular time, or through a form of paid leave.
    • Those employees who have been asked to work from home but who need to visit their office for computer or equipment should work with their manager or supervisor to arrange a time when it is appropriate to do so, as long as they are not self-isolating.

    This transition will take some time, and we are working as quickly as possible to give you the precise guidance you need as things continue to evolve rapidly. We are asking employees for patience as we work through all of the logistics related to setting up remote work arrangements.  The Technology Service Centre (TSC) and Information Systems Shared Services (ISSS) are actively working with departmental business continuity planners to operationalize the transition.

    As you can appreciate, the next couple of days are critical for the implementation of Business Continuity Plans. This is an unprecedented situation and is being monitored very closely. We will continue to communicate information on an on-going basis.