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Over $36 million was spent on new office equipment to allow federal employees to work from home, records obtained by Blacklock's Reporter show.
The Department of Public Works said that the money was not a waste, saying that employees are expected to continue to "leverage flexible work arrangements post Covid-19 and will therefore make ongoing use of this equipment."
Employees were offered doorstep delivery of a free chair, or a $500 grant to purchase their own.
The tab for home office equipment totalled $36.26 million—nearly one dollar for every man, woman and child in Canada. Expenses included chairs, floor mats, printers, ink cartridges, keyboards, headphones, computers, and anything else that would allow for a comfortable home-office experience.
“Some of the costs to support employees working from home may be offset by savings resulting from reduced occupancy of buildings,” wrote managers. “For instance, the department saw a reduction of approximately $4 million in building operations costs between March and June compared to a similar period in 2019.”
Less than 10 percent of departmental staff worked from the office as usual, with Cabinet recommending that employees steer clear of office work to avoid getting ill.
If employees were to get sick, however, employees would not be required to show a doctor's note in order to take a sick day.
A notice from the Ministry of Labour said that unpaid sick days for federally-regulated employees would waive doctor's notes after employer representatives expressed strong opposition to the idea.
Under the new regulations, employees would only need to provide a written declaration promising that they are sick. The new regulation also applies to those receiving the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which allows employees to provide only a written declaration to receive $1,000 from the government, even if they do not have COVID-19.