Toronto sets January date for city workers to return to the office, amid rising COVID-19 cases, Omicron uncertainty
Toronto is set in motion to start running some city employees from home. Starting January 17, the city is bringing back on-line all employees who are not sick, but are currently not physically present in the building in the event that an employee has to be quarantined following a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.
This is a response to a need for additional physical distance between people while the virus is spreading, as well as a plan to get people back to the office for work as soon as possible.
“We’re going to be doing a couple of things,” said Councillor Joe Cressy, chair of the city’s executive committee.
“It’s an effort to get back to work and to be compliant with what we’ve been required, given by the (Ontario) Health Ministry, to be doing.”
The city is also setting aside $80,000 to support affected employees.
“Everyone, no matter how sick or infected they might be, is entitled to some kind of support,” Cressy said. Citing a recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Cressy said that, on average, those who are ill with the virus infect an estimated 12.5 people per day, out of the more than 150,000 people who contract COVID-19.
At a minimum, the city will get workers back to the office for the time they have been away, before deciding whether to bring back people on a case-by-case basis.
The city is also working with the Omicron Group to ensure that if employees end up testing positive, that they will be able to work remotely.
In addition, the City of Toronto is establishing a working group on occupational pandemics.
“I think we all recognize that we’ve had a very difficult year and a lot of people have had to lose their jobs,” said Cressy.
“We haven’t been able to move as quickly as we�