Feds give $500 (or a new chair!) to Work From Home employees

Federal employees that were sent home to work got an expensive chair, delivered right to their door, or $500 to spend on furniture.

But at least those ones were working.

Some federal workers are paid their full wages to stay home and not work!

As the pandemic hit Canada, millions of Canadians were sent home, laid off with no paycheque, no prospects, and no job to return to in the foreseeable future. However, thousands of federal employees were sent home to work remotely - collecting their full pay, learning to telecommute the way many of us had to.

But unlike those of us covering the bill for the Federal government, those public sector workers also got a workspace re-fab so they didn’t have to sit at -the horrors!- the kitchen table with their laptops. 

The news broke in today’s Blacklock's Reporter: 

Federal employees working from home are entitled to a $500 furniture grant or doorstep delivery of a free chair. The Department of Public Works did not explain why staff could not use their own chairs.

...The $500-or-free-chair offer was detailed in a June 23 directive from Deputy Public Works Minister Bill Matthews. “We are committed to providing you with the equipment needed to be productive and healthy regardless of where you are asked to work,” Matthews wrote employees.

I want to know: how much does this all cost?

“Given the recent introduction of these guidelines, overall costs of chairs delivered or purchased are not currently available,” said Stéfanie Hamel, spokesperson for the department.

...Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos in May 8 testimony at the Commons government operations committee said “a large portion” of some 287,978 employees were working from home, but did not detail figures.

If “large portion” means just half of all federal workers were at home, the bill for the new chairs (or $500) — the bill for the comfort of the work at-homers is nearing $75 million dollars.

Blacklock's also reports that many federal workers are staying home, not because they are sick, but because they don’t want to or can’t work because of childcare challenges, but are still receiving their full salaries.

It’s called a “pandemic furlough”, it covers 77,000 federal employees and the program has cost the taxpayer $500 million as of May 31, 2020.