P.E.I. wants some civil servants to continue to work from home

The P.E.I. government says it is planning to have as many as 33 per cent of civil servants work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping employees' cars off roads will help province reduce greenhouse gas emissions

P.E.I.'s goal is to eventually have 33 per cent of Island civil servants work from home, says Transportation Minister Steven Myers. (Sebastian Leck/CBC)

The P.E.I. government says it is planning to have as many as 33 per cent of civil servants work from home even after the curve of the global pandemic flattens and government eases restrictions. 

Steven Myers chairs the government operations special cabinet committee and is also minister of transportation, and made the announcement Thursday at a media briefing. 

"Employees have been working effectively and productively at home for the past two months," Myers said. "During this time we have experienced less traffic congestion and seen fewer vehicles on our roads."

Transportation is responsible for almost half of P.E.I.'s greenhouse gas emissions, Myers noted.

"As we adapt to the impacts of the global pandemic, we are presented with a unique opportunity to look at the way that government operates — this is a chance for us to see what actions we can take to align our sustainable transportation strategy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continue to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads." 

Myers said officials in his department have been working with the Public Service Commission and the Environment Department in the last couple weeks to consider long-term solutions, and not bringing back some employees who have been successfully working at home is one of them. 

Surveying bureaucrats

The province sent a survey to civil servants this week, asking them what working from home has been like for them and how it has affected their ability to do their work, Myers said. Government will use the information gleaned to help with "greening government" he said.

The pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to see how more civil servants can work from home, says Myers. (Ken Linton/CBC)

"We have set a long-term goal of a reduction of 33 per cent of employees, and by our first run-through [with department managers] we found 16 per cent quite easily," he said. "It may be a lofty goal, but I think it's reasonable." 

No one will be forced to work from home, and they will be supported with the proper technology and ergonomics, he said.

The government is considering a model that would see employees work three days from home and two days in the office, he said. 

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