It’s time to talk about workload

Workloads are, by far, the most common problem we hear about from across SSU. From the regions and head office, from protech and from support.

We have been hearing about an increase is assignments, both in frequency and quantities; the impact of staffing changes; and unrealistic expectations and deadlines.

This problem is not new.

And although attempts have been made to start addressing the issues, we know much more needs to be done.

It’s time to talk about workload.

How to stop work from killing us.
Find out more on Jan 16 or Jan 25

Is work killing you poster

For the next step in our workload campaign, SSU has won the employer’s co-operation in co-hosting a work-time session with Dr David Posen, author of Is Work Killing You? A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress.

The session will be held twice so all can attend. Please block off time for one of these two times: Tuesday, Jan. 16 (9am to noon) or Thursday, Jan. 25 (1 to 4 pm)

Read more …

We’re learning to talk about workload

Take part:

Wear your Let’s Talk Workload lanyard

Put up Let’s Talk Workload posters in your workplace
(and email a pic to

The roots of our workload issue

  • In 2006, OPSEU/SEFPO had 115,000 members and 261 protech and support staff.
  • In 2021, OPSEU/SEFPO had 158,000 members and 276 protech and support staff.
  • 37 per cent increase in members. 6 per cent increase in staff.
  • In September 2022, the employer acknowledged the clear problem.
  • Together, the leaders of OPSEU/SEFPO and OPSSU determined that 54 new permanent positions were needed just to get us back to a manageable and sustainable staffing ratio.
  • Over the last year, the employer has created 14 new permanent positions.
  • We urgently need 40 more – and we’ll need even more as OPSEU/SEFPO continues to grow.

When workload is an issue, we hear things like:

  • “I’m being assigned an unreasonable amount of work.”
  • “I’m pressured to meet unreasonable deadlines.”
  • “Staff turnover is frequent and chaotic.”
  • “Filling vacant positions can take months, even years.”
  • “There are not enough staff to do the work.”
  • “I’m scared that if I raise this with my supervisor, I’ll be branded incompetent or selfish.”
  • “I often worry I’ll be disciplined or fired because I can’t keep up.”
  • “Training and support seem inadequate.”
  • “I often face conflicting demands.”
  • “The distribution of workload is not measured or equal.”

The goals of our workload campaign

  1. Faster action and a clear process allowing OPSSU members to have safe and meaningful discussions with their supervisors about workload.
    • OPSSU wants to be proactive and work with the employer in a meaningful and respectful way.
  2. A real tool for measuring workload.
    • Our Collective Agreement requires the employer to accurately measure and assign work. But supervisors and administrators do not have credible tools for measuring workload and assigning duties. It is often subjective and arbitrary, and handled as emergency measures instead of consistent expectations.
    • We need to work collaboratively towards a consistent and meaningful process and measurement matrix. We need to be able to know the expectations, and have a way to discuss when it is just too much. In those discussions, we should be able to engage in conversations and plans to negotiate reasonable expectations and deadlines.
  3. Destigmatize workload discussions
    • Only by making workload a constant, normal discussion where members can feel safe will we be able to actually tackle workload issues.
    • A key goal of this campaign is to make workload discussions a core part of our culture — respectful and meaningful discussions about the work and how we can be most effective and efficient.
  4. Make OPSEU/SEFPO an even more productive, energetic, and powerful union.

What’s next

Let's learn to talk about workload
Let's learn to talk about workload
Psychological safety includes workload
  • Each department and office will receive workload-themed posters and lanyards. We’ll encourage members to post the posters in the workplaces, and to wear the lanyards.
  • We are working with a medical doctor with expertise in the very real health consequences of chronic work stress. During live sessions, SSU members will be able to ask questions about the health damage they’re suffering because of work stress and about how other workplaces have started to successfully address the problem
  • Much more is in the works, and we’re always looking for other ideas. Members can always feel free to talk about workload with us, and can share their concerns at

Together we are strong!

Join OPSSU and your workload campaign committee in finding solutions and getting the employer back on track making active and effective changes.