Here is a message below from the CRA Commissioner that was recently distributed to employees of the CRA.  It does not specifically mention the Charities Directorate but it is likely that much of the Charities Directorate will not be considered to be critical services and you can expect the Charities Directorate to be largely shut down until April 5, 2020.  Deadlines have not been extended but expect a slow response on charity applications, inquiries, etc.  The Charities Listing is working fine.

 

The voicemail of the Charities Directorate indicates that their call center is closed until further notice and that they encourage you to refer to CRA’s Charities and Giving website.

 

Good evening,

Since our last message on March 13, 2020 efforts to slow the spread of the infection have evolved significantly, as we continue to face a unique set of rapidly changing circumstances. You, our employees, are our priority as we continue to balance the need to deliver critical services to Canadian taxpayers and businesses, with the need to contribute to local, regional and national efforts to respond to public health authorities’ advice and direction.

This update reflects the latest guidance issued by TBS OCHRO since our last message of March 13, 2020, up to and including the message sent to Deputy Heads at 6:01 p.m. on March 15, 2020.

CRITICAL SERVICES

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and reduce drain on critical resources, effective today, March 15, 2020, and until April 5, 2020, only CRA employees who perform critical services for Canadians will be required to continue to work, remotely if possible. Your manager will communicate with you if your role is considered a critical service.

All other CRA employees are asked to stay home in order to minimize the spread of illness, and are asked to refrain from logging onto the CRA network using secure remote access to minimize impact on our ability to deliver critical services to Canadians and in the community.

For the purposes of this communication, critical services is understood to include the following (please note that this list is not exhaustive, and may be subject to change as the situation continues to evolve and the Agency may be asked to contribute to the Government-wide response in new and different ways):

  • Ensuring the continuation of benefits payments to benefit recipients, and associated functions, including the processing of returns and responding to calls received in CRA’s Income Tax and Benefit Enquiries and Business Enquiries call centres;
  • Activities associated with the CRA’s contribution to the Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to supporting Canada’s economic resilience during the pandemic;
  • Activities associated with the CRA’s internal management of our organization’s response to the pandemic, especially as it relates to the safety and security of our workforce.

Where possible, employees supporting critical services should perform these services remotely. If you are a CRA employee who performs critical services, your manager will communicate with you and determine whether you should work from home or come into a CRA office. Where these functions must be performed in the workplace, arrangements are being made to safeguard the health and safety of employees through appropriate cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Only CRA employees and contractors who support critical services will be allowed to access CRA buildings.

LEAVE

In keeping with the guidance issued by OCHRO on March 13, 2020, the following will apply.

Employees that are required by public health officials to self-isolate: If in good health, identified as supporting a critical service, and able to work, employees will be asked to discuss with their managers the option to telework. If that is not possible, the employees will be granted “other leave with pay (6990 code)” as per their collective agreements.

Individual cases may have to be examined on their own merits (i.e. if an employee willingly chose to travel to affected areas contrary to public health advice.)

Employees who are identified as supporting a critical service and whose children cannot attend school or daycare due to a closure or because of attendance restrictions in place in relation to the coronavirus situation. Employees will:

  • Attempt to make alternative care arrangements.
  • If that is not possible, they discuss with their managers, the option to telework.
  • If that is not possible, they will be granted “other leave with pay” (6990 code).

The above provisions for disruption of school and daycare operations related to the coronavirus will remain available to employees and managers for the duration of the disruption in the respective jurisdictions but will be reassessed by the Employer on April 10, 2020.

If you have any questions, contact your manager. Only if you are faced with a no pay situation, please send an email to the CCSC-CSCR@cra-arc.gc.ca.

In keeping with public health authorities’ advice, medical certificates should not be required during the pandemic.

TRAVEL

The Government of Canada has issued an Official Global Travel Advisory, requesting that all Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Anyone returning from travel abroad is required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. You should also inform your manager.

MEETINGS

Whenever possible, meetings should be conducted via teleconferencing. A reminder not to use web conferencing, in order to minimize burden on the network.

If you are an employee performing critical services and working in a CRA building, and you believe that you are confronted with a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case, please immediately contact your local Public Health Authority and your manager.

PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE

Looking after our people is our priority. We must all follow the PHAC and Health Canada workplace-specific guidance on the new Canada.ca page for Government of Canada employees as well as the direction of local public health authorities when specific cases arise. The authoritative source of information for Canadians on COVID-19 is Canada.ca/coronavirus and the Information Line at 1 833-784-4397. Since this is an evolving situation, managers and employees must consult this site on a daily basis.

For questions about COVID-19 in the workplace, visit the Canada.ca page for Government of Canada employees. This page will be expanded in the coming days to include more guidance and frequently asked questions.

If you are concerned about your health and safety, you should discuss your concerns with your manager who can refer to labour relations for advice.

BUSINESS AT THE CRA

The CRA is well positioned to respond to the emergence of COVID-19. The agency has comprehensive business continuity plans in place and the Agency COVID-19 Task Force has been established. A number of other steps are being taken that will help the CRA continue to deliver services to Canadians in a healthy and safe environment.

We recognize that colleagues across the country are actively participating in the containment effort, or are themselves in self-isolation. We want to take this opportunity to signal our respect and support for them and for those working tirelessly across government to support and serve Canadians.

We know these times are stressful. Please remember you and your family members can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program if you need support.

Your health and safety is our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and will share updates with you as information becomes available.

Thank you for your continued cooperation.

If you would like more information on Canadian Charity law, Blumbergs’ has many resources posted on CanadianCharityLaw.ca. We also offer many different online courses on various Canadian Charity Law issues.