COVID-19: Update for UTE members working at CRA

March 17, 2020

Message to the members of the Union of Taxation Employees

Hello Sisters and Brothers,

As you know, the crisis situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic is escalating across the country.

Many of you have expressed your concerns and worries about this situation, particularly those of you who still have to report to any of the Canada Revenue Agency offices to perform your duties.

We fully understand that many of you are concerned about this unprecedented situation and we share the same concerns.

Over the past few days, the Canada Revenue Agency has taken some steps to minimize the spread of the virus by asking most of its employees to stay home. However, the Agency has required its employees who provide services that it considers "critical" to Canadians to continue to work remotely, where possible, or from one of the CRA offices.

While we recognize the Agency's efforts, we have raised significant concerns with senior management about the health and safety of our members, particularly those working in call centres and tax centres.

We have been in constant contact with the employer and the UTE National Health and Safety Committee has been in daily contact with the CRA National OHS office to address any concerns regarding the health and safety of our members that have been brought to our attention.

Our discussions with CRA senior management at the regional and national levels have been numerous and have intensified since last Sunday. Most recently, we have asked for a full closure of all CRA Offices and that critical services be provided by teleworking employees to the fullest extent possible.

As a result, the Agency announced this afternoon that it is putting in place immediately and over the next few days additional measures to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to significantly reduce the number of employees who will physically work in the various CRA offices. However, the Agency decided not to fully close its offices.

Benefit payments to beneficiaries and related functions deemed essential will be maintained but with a reduced presence in the workplace.

Agency offices will not necessarily close.

But it is clear that tax centres will see a significant reduction in the number of employees coming to their premises.

With respect to initial (T1) returns, only those transactions necessary for recipients to obtain their benefits will still be done.

As for the call centres, their capacity will be considerably reduced and the work will be done almost exclusively remotely.

Rest assured that we will continue to monitor the situation very closely with the employer in order to defend your interests and ensure that your health and safety at work is protected.

We are very proud of the work our members do every day to provide Canadians with high quality services.

In particular, I would like to sincerely thank those of you who continue to provide your services to Canadians during this very difficult time.

We will keep you informed of any important developments.

In Solidarity, 

Marc Brière's signature

Marc Brière
National President