A much-anticipated union-management report on workplace mental health concerns was jointly released December 2 by Treasury Board and the Agriculture Union’s bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

The report of the Joint Task Force on Mental Health is both timely and welcome. The past decade of Conservative government has taken a heavy toll on workplace health and employee morale.

The PSAC welcomed the Task Force’s 11 major recommendations as an “important step in improving federal public service workplaces”. It noted that, in recent years, almost one in two cases dealt with through the Employee Assistance Program was related to psychological health.

The PSAC had strongly pushed for the creation of the Task Force in the last round of contract talks. Thanks to those efforts, the study was set-up last March with equal members from union and employer sides.

The Task Force report zeroed in on a widespread management culture that has resulted in dehumanized workplaces where getting the job done has largely replaced consideration and compassion for employees. It called for the implementation of the Mental Health Commission’s national psychological standard across the federal public service, strongly stating that the way the public service is managed must shift from an “output-focused environment to one that is more people-focused”.

Of course, actions are more important than words. The successful implementation of the report’s many positive recommendations can be seen as a litmus test of the new Liberal government’s commitment to “a culture of respect for and within the public service”.

More information on the PSAC’s reaction to the Report’s release can be found here.