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October 31, 2022

Honourable Mona Fortier, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board
Treasury Board Secretariat

RE: Federal government return to office plan

Dear Minister:

With COVID-19 now decidedly in the endemic phase, most Canadians are resuming pre-pandemic activities. We are seeing this trend in everyday life as people return to schools, workplaces, movie theatres, large sporting events, and restaurants. Given the robust volume of scientific knowledge about COVID-19 accumulated over the last two and a half years, the federal government has also recognized the new phase we are in by rightly dropping pandemic-related border measures, in addition to already having suspended the vaccination mandate for federal public servants. 

Many businesses have now implemented their return to the workplace plans. However, some governments are significantly lagging in the development and implementation of their plans to bring public sector employees back to their places of work. We call upon all governments that have not implemented plans to bring their employees back to do so as rapidly as possible. 

The federal government is not only a major employer in cities and communities across Canada, but in many places it is the anchor employer. As businesses in these communities assess their long-term viability given the pandemic’s damaging effects on downtown centres, restoring normal economic activity requires the federal government to act now. In fact, recent data shows that the Ottawa/Gatineau region, with its particularly high concentration of federal government employees, has the lowest return to office rate of any government capital in Canada.

Additionally, our members are concerned about the deteriorating ability of the government to engage effectively with stakeholders. Good public policy relies on regular engagement with stakeholders, both within the business community and in the broader public. While virtual connectivity has opened up new communication channels, it is not a substitute for the ability to meet, consult and collaborate in person. Implementing a federal government return to office strategy will facilitate much more efficient and productive engagement both within the government itself and with the general public. It will also help to address the many deficiencies in public services that are seriously affecting both the business community and individual Canadians.

We strongly urge the federal government to lead the way to a return to normal that will both foster economic growth and ensure that all Canadians receive the quality of public services that they have a right to expect. Along with our member businesses, we will be pleased to work with you in making this process a success.


Honourable Perrin Beatty, P.C., O.C.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Anita Huberman
President & Chief Executive Officer
Surrey Board of Trade

AnnMarie Boudreau
Chief Executive Officer
St. John’s Board of Trade

Anthony Norejko
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Business Aviation Association

Barbara Barrett
Executive Director
Frontier Duty Free Association

Bob Masterson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

Bruce Rodgers
Executive Director
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association

Carol West
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Society of Customs Brokers

Catherine Wieckowska
Responsible Distribution Canada

Charles Milliard
Président-directeur general
Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec

Christian Buhagiar
President and Chief Executive Officer
Restaurants Canada

Chuck Davidson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce

Dan Kelly
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Daniel-Robert Gooch
President and Chief Executive Officer
Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Dennis Darby
President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Diane J. Brisebois
President and Chief Executive Officer
Retail Council of Canada

Goldy Hyder
President and Chief Executive Officer
Business Council of Canada

Jan De Silva
President and Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Region Board of Trade

Jim Facette
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer

Krista Ross
Chief Executive Officer
Fredericton Chamber of Commerce

Liz Kovach
Western Retail Lumber Association

Loren Remillard
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Marc Chénier
Directeur general
Regroupement de gens d’affaires de la Capitale nationale

Meghan O’Reilly
Public Affairs Manager
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada

Michel Leblanc
Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC)

Prabha Ramaswamy
Chief Executive Officer
Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce

Rocco Rossi
President and CEO
Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Sandra Marsden
Canadian Sugar Institute

Shannon Coombs

Shelly Nichol
Executive Director
St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce

Sheri Somerville
Chief Executive Officer
Atlantic Chamber of Commerce

Sueling Ching
President and Chief Executive Officer
Ottawa Board of Trade

Tim Reuss
President and CEO
Canadian Automobile Dealers Association

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