Most officials worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and federal office buildings in Ottawa-Gatineau have remained nearly empty. The wave of employees who will return next Tuesday as part of a pilot project represents only 5% of the total capacity of the complex.
CBC asked PSPC for more information on how the deployment would work, but no details were available on Thursday.
It is a project that is supported by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the largest union in the federal public sector – a project that should be taken with caution, said Regional Executive Vice President Alex Silas.
“Let’s take the time to get it right and make sure no one is at unnecessary risk,” Silas said.
“We will take anything”
The imminent return of employees is also good news for businesses in downtown Gatineau, which suffered heavy losses while officials worked from home.
“It’s not much, but it’s good to know that the government is preparing a return to downtown Gatineau,” said Annie-Pier Caron Daviault, Executive Director of Vision Center-Ville de Gatineau, the industry business improvement association.
In order for downtown businesses to stay afloat financially, they need officials to return to their offices and then frequent them two to three days a week, Caron Daviault said.
“I think we’ll take anything at this point, right?” A little hope, ”said Véronique Rivest, owner of Le Soif, a wine bar a few blocks from the office towers of Portage.
While her business is far enough away from the towers not to depend exclusively on the return of the federal workforce, Rivest is still grateful for the news of the pilot project.
“It’s definitely a silver lining. “
While the return of officials is important in the short term, the mayor of Gatineau Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin has expressed a certain caution about the project.
“In the long run, some of them will never come back,” he said. “We must therefore change the [direction of] downtown Gatineau. “