6 in 10 Canadians support federal return to office mandate: survey

Treasury Board secretariat stands firm on RTW mandate, saying it's 'not a political decision'

6 in 10 Canadians support federal return to office mandate: survey

Nearly six in 10 (59%) of Canadians support federal government workers spending more time in-office, according to a recent report from Angus Reid.

More than half of both Canadians who are in a union (52%) and those who are not (55%) feel this way.

Overall, just 28% of Canadians oppose this idea. The number increases to 35% among those who are in a union and to 30% among those who are not.

Meanwhile, among workers who are part of a public sector union, less than half (47%) support Ottawa’s mandate for workers to spend more time in the office, and 41% oppose the move.

More than 2 in 5 (45%) Canadians who work in a public sector union say the government should reverse the new policy in the event of union discontent, finds Angus Reid’s survey of 1,751 Canadian adults from May 16 to 21, 2024.

Meanwhile, more than one-third (36%) of that group believe the government should continue to hold firm on its new remote work policy.

Do public sector workers have better working conditions?

Currently, three-quarters (75%) of Canadians say federal government workers have better working conditions than others, finds the study. These Canadians include at least 7 in 10 of likely CPC (86%), Liberal (73%), NDP (70%) and Bloc Québécois voters (70%).

When the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) was on strike last spring, there was more support than opposition for many of its demands. However, at the same time, Canadians were more likely to view federal government employees as overpaid (28%) than under compensated (17%), according to Angus Reid.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Canadians also said at the time that federal government workers enjoyed much better working conditions than those who work in similar jobs in the private sector.

Treasury Board stands firm on hybrid mandate

Recently, Anita Anand, president of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, stood firm on Ottawa’s mandate for public sector workers to return to the office.

"That decision was made by the public service, it was not a political decision," she said at the Mayor's Breakfast at Ottawa City Hall on Thursday, according to CTV News.

And the policy is about flexibility, she said.

“The move from two to three days to three days, it is still within the range that was put down in the policy before I became Treasury Board president, and it's four days for managers – so hybrid still exists in that respect."

However, Anand also said that managers should accommodate staff requesting exemptions.

"We should focus our attention on accommodations and exemptions for public servants who need and require those exemptions," Anand said.

"I really have faith that we will do more with the telework options so that public servants feel continually supported. My view is that we got through the pandemic with the public servants supporting our country so well and we need to continue to support them."

Most Canadian workers are OK with heading back to the office – but employers do not seem to be ready to meet their needs, according to a previous report.

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