Doug Ford wants Ottawa workers to be in the office at least 3 days a week

But union says benefits of one-size-fits-all approach to office return 'hard to find'

Doug Ford wants Ottawa workers to be in the office at least 3 days a week

Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford has called on the federal government to bring federal workers back to the office in Ottawa at least three days a week to help boost economic activity in the city.

"They have to get people back to work," Ford said during a press conference in Ottawa, while standing next to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, according to a CBC report.

"It sounds crazy. I'm begging people to go to work for three days — not that they aren't working at home, but it really affects the downtown."

Previously, James Bailey, professor and Hochberg fellow of leadership development at The George Washington University, previously told Canadian HR Reporter that downtown businesses will die if, after the pandemic, people continue to work from home.

Ford popped by Sutcliffe's monthly city hall breakfast and detailed a wide-ranging funding plan for the capital over the next decade — one that would also require significant federal investment. The "new deal for Ottawa" provides up to $197 million over three years in provincial operating supports and up to $346 million over 10 years in provincial capital supports for housing, travel, public safety and other areas.

‘Get government workers back into the office’

Calling on workers to report to offices in Ottawa will boost economic activity in the city, said Ford.

"I know a lot of people love working at home and that's fine, but we need the federal government to get government workers back into the office -- even a few days," Ford said, according to a CTV News report.

"What it does is it's a real massive boost to the transit ridership, it's huge, and the downtown economy. Without the people down there, the economy starts dying, the restaurants start hurting and everything else starts hurting. Hopefully, the prime minister will call people back to work."

Ford calls his plea a “simple request,” noted CBC.

"These restaurants are hurting, the shops are hurting, ridership on the transit is hurting – I think that's a normal request. You get hired, come to work. Imagine if I told anyone else in the province, you don't have to come to work, our economy would be shot. They shouldn't get special treatment; even a few days a week, anything to get the economy going,” he said, according to CTV News.

‘Benefits of one-size-fits-all approach hard to find,’ says PIPSC

However, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) is against Ford’s call.

"Premier Ford should leave this issue at the negotiating table where it belongs," said PIPSC president Jennifer Carr, according to CTV News.

"The Treasury Board of Canada already rolled out a one-size-fits-all approach to return federal public servants to their offices for two-three days per week in 2023. PIPSC has always opposed this approach and instead supports the principle of 'presence with purpose' being at the office when justified by operational needs. So far, the benefits of this one-size-fits-all approach have been hard to find. Instead, this approach has resulted in decreased productivity, increased worker dissatisfaction and has negatively impacted the services Canadians rely on."

The Treasury Board currently has a “common hybrid work model for the Federal Public Service”. The model requires employees to work on site at least two to three days each week. The model applies to all of the core public administration.

PIPSC had previously filed an official bad faith bargaining complaint against the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for imposing a blanket return-to-office policy.

Workers have been vocal about their desire for hybrid work, according to a previous report. And while most Canadian workers are OK with heading back to the office, employers do not seem to be ready to meet their office needs, according to another report.

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