International Day of Democracy — Public Service Employment Act: Your Rights During Elections

According to the United Nations General Assembly, September 15, since 2007, has been designated as the International Day of Democracy through a resolution to encourage governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy. That is why today we want to take the time to talk to you about issues affecting your right during an election period to express your opinion outside of work hours.

This is the first federal election to be held in Canada during a pandemic. COVID-19 will see us turning more to the web and television to be informed about the issues. Since we are now facing the 4th wave, some speeches will be cancelled for health and safety reasons. Everyone will want to express their opinion. It is important to be aware of the Public Service Employment Act, which outlines your right to express a viewpoint online during an election.

This Act only came into effect on March 21, 1991. To put this in context, it allows you to be “non-partisan” outside of work hours.

  • Appointments and promotions from within and out of the public service are free from political influence.
  • Public servants have the right to engage in political activities while respecting the principle of political impartiality in the public service.
  • The political activities of public servants shall not impair or be perceived as impairing their ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner
  • Political activities include any activity in support of, within, or in opposition to a political party, any activity in support of, or in opposition to a candidate, or being an election candidate.[1]

In other words, it is your right to participate in political activities without affecting your time at work or your stated opinion. When you are no longer at work, your time is your own, which was not the case before March 1991. During your time at work, you must remain neutral, i.e., not participate in, support or oppose a particular political party.

In short, the opinions you express and the actions you take outside of work hours have only been under your control since 1991. An article has also been published on the PSAC website: “Your Rights on Social Media during an Election”. UCTE has prepared a document which informs you of the issues and questions you might ask during a federal election in Canada. Take the time to learn the positions of the political parties on issues directly impacting UCTE members. It is important to pay attention. And most importantly… don’t forget to vote.


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