The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many services, and TRIUMF is working hard to support our employees and provide information during this time. As a temporary foreign worker, we understand that you have additional considerations related to your immigration status and are uniquely affected. We have compiled the most up to date information on services that directly impact you and have summarized this below. Changes and updates are occurring daily, and we will continue to provide updates via the TRIUMF COVID-19 webpage as we receive them.
Your Health During COVID-19
TRIUMF has taken many steps as part of our effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our employees. These have been communicated to our employees and are outlined on the COVID-19 webpage, and include:
Transitioning to remote work for approximately 80% of employees, significantly decreasing the amount of employees on site, and only allowing essential staff for medical isotope production on site.
Cancelling or postponing events like conferences and seminars, and moving meetings online
Increasing our hygienic practices on site, including access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizing dispensers, more frequent cleaning services especially in high traffic areas, ensuring workers can practice physical distancing in their workplace and providing PPE and applicable training to our staff.
We are also taking an active role in monitoring the health of our community and supporting our people if they need to self-isolate. We have created Reporting Guidelines for reporting a change in your health status, and what constitutes a change in status. These include:
Someone self-monitoring due to contact (direct/indirect) now develops symptoms
Someone self-isolating due to contact (direct/indirect) who now becomes symptomatic
Someone who is self-monitoring at home with someone asymptomatic who is self-isolating, and the family member now develops symptoms
Someone who is self-isolating who has now tested positive for the virus.
This reporting ensures that supervisors are maintaining continued contact with their staff, even those working remotely, and allows us to provide support and information to our staff that is most applicable to their situation.
TRIUMF has also suspended the requirement for doctor’s notes to support illness related absence. Our reporting guidelines allow us to properly assess the situation to ensure the risk to our employee’s and our community’s health is minimized. Non-COVID-19 absences will still follow regular procedure and be processed through Human Resources. While doctor’s notes have been suspended for regular sick leave as well, those absence/leaves that would normally require a note need to be discussed with Maxine McKay to review and assess a return to work, as per the standard practice.
If you have questions regarding reporting or your current health status, you can contact your supervisor or send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As per the government of Canada guidelines, all unnecessary travel should not be undertaken. If you must travel, and you travel outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days upon returning and submit your Self Isolation Plan for review by government officials. You can find more information on the self-isolation requirement here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/self-isolation-on-return
For those temporary foreign workers/students who are currently outside of Canada and need to return, you are exempt form current travel restrictions and can return to Canada with the appropriate supporting documentation. If you are currently in this situation, please contact your supervisor and Maxine McKay so we can discuss the requirements around your return and get you the applicable supporting documentation.
TRIUMF has been working hard to see that our temporary foreign employees are not negatively impacted due to COVID-19 reasons. This includes taking steps to ensure that employment continues during this period, and we are currently working to process extensions for end dates in the next six (6) months. We are also reviewing with supervisors and ALDs any appointments that are set to end or are unable to continue to make sure that leaving TRIUMF would not result in a precarious situation for the employee.
Work Permit Extensions
HR is currently processing extensions for those whose work permits are expiring in the next six (6) months, and moving forward we will continue to start the extension process six months prior to a permits expiry. All work permit extension applications must be made through the online system, as Port of Entry (POE) applications are currently suspended.
IRCC is currently experiencing greatly increased processing times, and the IRCC website no longer provides approximate processing times due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. All in person appointments, including biometrics, have been cancelled until further notice. Biometrics are generally required for most work permit and extension applications, and IRCC has automatically increased the period for giving biometrics from thirty (30) to ninety (90) days. Your application will not be refused or closed if you aren’t able to give your biometrics within the ninety(90) day period, and when Service Canada resumes collecting biometrics you will have to make a new appointment. You can find more information on biometrics here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/biometrics.html
The increased processing times and cancelled biometrics appointments mean that it is likely you will not receive your new permit prior to your current expiring and you will be put on implied status. *Important: Implied status will allow you to maintain your status in Canada under your current conditions as long as you remain in Canada. This means that you can continue to work, be paid, and receive benefits until a decision is made on your application. To extend your appointment on implied status, you just need to provide your payment receipt and IRCC confirmation of application to HR for processing.
If you leave the country while on implied status, the status will be invalidated and while you should be allowed to return to Canada you will not be permitted to work until you receive your new work permit. If you must leave Canada while on implied status, please contact your supervisor and Maxine McKay to discuss.
Medical Services Plan (MSP)
MSP is BC’s public health insurance. As of January 1, 2020 MSP premiums were eliminated. Due to the premium elimination, MSP is no longer a group benefit administered by TRIUMF and you are responsible for maintaining and updating your information with MSP, including changes in immigration status.
We know a large concern for our foreign workers and students is not having MSP coverage if they are on implied status. Access to healthcare is a high priority, and in response to COVID-19 the BC government has announced that those on implied status will now be provided with temporary MSP coverage during this period. This will apply to any individual that is currently in BC and was previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident (work or study permit, or applicable dependents), whose MSP coverage has expired with their permit.
Any foreign worker or student that may be put on implied status in the near future will need to contact Health Insurance BC to apply for this temporary coverage:
Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100
Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151
We encourage you to contact Health Insurance BC at least one (1) month before the expiry of your current permit to apply for the temporary coverage. At this time, temporary coverage is being extended to July 31, 2020. It is our hope that this date will be extended further given current outlooks relating to COVID-19. You can find further information on MSP and COVID-19 here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/msp-covid-19-response
Mental Health & Wellbeing
You will continue to have access to TRIUMF’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Homewood Health. This is a confidential support program available for you and your family to access support for a wide range of issues. It’s important to note that Homewood does not provide TRIUMF with information about who is using the program and its services. You can contact them directly, and their services are available both over the phone and online. For further information on Homewood Health: https://www.triumf.ca/human-resources/employee-assistance-program
Homewood Health has also provided some facts and general information on COVID-19 that you can view here.
As mentioned in a Townhall meeting by Dr. Bagger the federal government has also launched the Wellness Together Canada initiative, which provides an online portal that allows you to access self-assessments, self-directed e-mental health tools, peer support and live counselling via telephone, video and text. More information on this program can be found at www.wellnesstogether.ca or at 1-866-585-0445.
This is a challenging time for all of us, and coming together as a community and providing each other support is the best way for us to get through it. If you have any questions, are experiencing issues, or require advice or support we encourage you to reach out to your supervisor, Maxine McKay, or Ian Doyle.