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Guidance on Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Part 2: Pay, Equipment, Access & Security

COVID-19 has required us to adapt our tools, approaches, and strategies to a rapidly changing context. Students can be a powerful part of this response. The Clerk of the Privy Council and the Chief Human Resources Officer recently called upon hiring managers to consider engaging students to support our response to COVID-19 and recovery efforts

Students should be hired in a timely manner, assisted in the preparation of their workspace, welcomed, provided meaningful work, and have steps taken to ensure they are paid on time and accurately. To that end, and to support departments and agencies, organizational human resources teams, hiring managers, and students, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer has developed three guidance documents:

  • Part I: Rehiring current and former students, hiring new students, and obtaining security statuses
  • Part II: Pay, Equipment, Access & Security
  • Part III: Virtual onboarding

At all times, when rehiring current or former students or hiring new students, organizations must ensure value for money and respect sound stewardship in their decisions.

Part A - Guidance for Hiring Managers (Onboarding, Pay, Equipment & Access)

Q: How can I ensure that my students are appropriately onboarded and engaged?

A: The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer is working with partners at the Canada School of Public Service, Public Service Commission, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Shared Services Canada, and Public Services and Procurement Canada to create materials that will support onboarding and engagement of students. Once it has been finalized in the coming weeks, it will be shared to the Heads of Human Resources, supplementing existing department-specific resources.

Q: How can I ensure that students are paid accurately and on-time?

A: Respect the timelines prescribed by your department or agency for the submission of all paperwork related to the hire/rehire/extension of your student, ensuring HR and Compensation teams have sufficient time to process these transactions.

Q: How can I get my students connected and ready to work?

A:Follow your internal procedures, which would include working with your IT Service Desk. Be aware that procedures may currently be different (e.g. limiting equipment to critical staff), but multiple options are available, including:

  1. A “normal” set-up, which often includes a computing device (computer, laptop, or tablet), and occasionally a smartphone;
  2. A connection to GCcollaboration to use on their personal devices or a non-VPN departmental device; or
  3. In some cases, an iPad.

If you are unsure, ask your IT Service Desk about the options available in your department.

Q: Can students who cannot access equipment be asked to work in the office?

A: In line with current public health advisories, employees who are not critical and do not need to be in the office should work remotely. However, consult the relevant authorities within your department which may include Occupational Health & Safety, your own senior management, and the Head of Human Resources.

Q: What is GCcollaboration? How do I access it?

A: GCcollaboration is a cloud-based version of Microsoft 365 (e.g. Outlook, Word, PowerPoints, Excel), not to be mistaken with GCcollab, that allows email and work access from personal devices (eg. laptops, mobile phones, iPads) for unclassified or unprotected information.

Request access from your IT Service Desk, providing your department is listed here as a GCcollaboration user and the student you are seeking to hire has a personal device they are willing to use for work purposes or a non-VPN departmental device.

If your department does not have access to GCcollaboration, work with your IT Service Desk to gain access through Shared Services Canada.

Q: What information do I need to provide my IT Services Desk to request GCcollaboration access for my team members?


  1. First name;
  2. Surname; and
  3. Departmental email address, and, in order to authenticate the GCcollaboration account, either
  4. Personal email address; or
  5. Phone number.

Q: What guidance can I give to my students on the use of GCcollaboration?

A: Guides to help with the log on and authentication process are available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. In addition, pre-recorded and live training sessions are available here.

Q: Why should I consider an iPad instead of normal equipment?

A: Consult your IT service desk before considering an iPad as they may not be an option for all departments, or even all sectors and branches.

iPads may offer an advantage over normal equipment in the narrow circumstances where the department wants to limit traffic on its virtual private network AND the user does not need to access network drives or information management platforms (i.e. GCdocs, SharePoint) nor have a need to send and receive email with information above protected B.

Q: Who pays for the iPad?

A: iPads are normally paid for out of the cost center of the hiring manager.

Q: Can I authorize the purchase of additional equipment for students?

A: If you provide normal equipment, an iPad, or access to GCcollaboration, in most cases, the student should have the basics needed to work remotely.

If, however, you provide access to GCcollaboration and they do not have a personal device, work with those in your department responsible (e.g. corporate services) to determine how to proceed, as there may be processes in place to either give non-VPN devices or to explore other options.

Q: Should I request a mobile phone for students?

A: Your department will have internal policies and processes in place to help you answer this question. Refer such questions to their departmental IT service desk, considering value for money and remote work requirements.

Q: How can I get a myKEY for my students?

A: Request your IT service desk get you a myKEY if they can complete the local registration function remotely (i.e. via videoconference). Check with them.

Q: What guidance should I provide students on setting up their workspace?

A: We have guidance on this here.

Part B - Guidance for Hiring Managers (Security)

Q: How can I obtain a security status for a new student?

A: TBS has established a temporary variation to the Standard on Security Screening. Departments must continue to carry out all security screening activities outlined in the Standard on Security Screening, including ensuring a completed Security Screening Application and Consent Form is on file, and conducting a financial inquiry. However, the temporary variation will allow departments to grant conditions security statuses in those circumstances where fingerprinting cannot be conducted due to current physical distancing requirements.

The decision to grant conditional security statuses rests with your Deputy Head. That said, the use of this variation should be focused on low-risk positions.

These measures are expected to remain in place until August 31, 2020, but this date may change as circumstances evolve.

Consult with your organization’s security officials to determine practices in your organization.

Q: Is there anything else we should be doing, from a security perspective, when hiring students?

A: Yes. Make sure students have received appropriate guidance on information management and information security, especially where tools they use may restrict access (e.g. GCcollaboration). In addition, students should be provided:

  • Existing internal Information on IM/IT security requirements (department-specific);
  • IM/IT Security training sessions (department-specific);
  • CSPS or Departmental Security Awareness Training (department-specific);
  • Departmental information management/security course(s) (department-specific); and
  • The Teleworking one-pager from TBS.

Part C - Guidance for IT Professionals (Equipment)

Q: Can I remotely connect a user and provide them equipment?

A: Yes. Consult your internal processes, policies, and procedures, as some departments have adapted or evolved these in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including as they relate to issuing accounts, email, myKEYs, setting up devices, and delivering devices.

Q: What do we do about the limited remote access connections?

A: Consult your internal processes, policies, and procedures, as some departments have adapted or evolved these in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you are considering giving equipment to an employee, take into account the availability and capacity of Remote Access infrastructure. If you are able to provide equipment and a remote access link, you should do so.

Q: What if I cannot ensure a remote access connection?

A: Please consult your internal processes, policies, and procedures, as some departments have adapted or evolved these in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you cannot ensure a remote access connection for the user, either:

  1. provide an internet-enabled (but not network-enabled) device and set up a GCcollaboration account;
  2. work with the hiring manager to determine if the student has a personal device, and set up a GCcollaboration account; or
  3. work with the hiring manager to determine if an iPad is appropriate, and requisition one from SSC.

Q: How do I provide an iPad to an employee?

A: Follow your standard processes for ordering a mobile device, and instead select iPad with a data connection. Departments can also order iPads using a bulk procurement process.

Q: Can I ship or deliver a device to a user?

A: Yes, but first consult your internal processes and policies, as they may have already been amended in light of COVID-19.

Several departments have changed their processes to either enable contactless on-site pick-up or to have devices shipped.

When providing equipment to new staff, please be sure that devices are fully set up in line with departmental requirements and that they are sanitized before being shipped.

Q: Can I virtually authenticate user identity for the purposes of issuing a myKEY?

A: Yes. Shared Services Canada sent out a communication on March 31, 2020, stating:

  • The Key Management Centre has implemented a new COVID-19 Directive Improvement to help the Local Registration Authority (LRA) community with identification proofing. We have temporarily enabled the distribution of authorization codes via video or phone. Where the external subscriber is unable to provide a signature (no scanner equipment at home), the sponsor and LRA can provide the signature physically or digitally for the request.

Q: Does my department have access to GCcollaboration?

A: Most departments have access to GCcollaboration. Check here to find out.

Q: My department does not have access to GCcollaboration. What should I do?

A: Submit a request to the SSC Digital Communication and Collaboration Mailbox, copying your Department Lead for GCcollaboration (often your Chief Information Officer).

There is no cost for GCcollaboration and sign-up can be processed quickly (within a few days).

Q: I’ve received a request to give a user access to GCcollaboration. What do I do?

A: Follow the steps in Part A of this guidance, submitting a request to the SSC Digital Communication and Collaboration Mailbox.