City ‘laser-focused’ on maintaining essential services: Tory

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The City of Toronto is working to maintain essential services, Mayor John Tory said Thursday during the city’s COVID-19 briefing.

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The redeployment of staff has started, 100 agents are ready to be redeployed and 1,000 others have been identified.

Staff who can interrupt their work or be recruited in areas such as parks and forestry can intervene in essential services if these workers become ill.

Staff can volunteer for redeployment.

“The city’s tiered approach to staff redeployment will ensure essential and critical city services remain operational even as we see an increase in staff absences due to the Omicron variant,” Tory said.

“We are focused on continuing essential and critical city services that residents rely on. Toronto emergency services will continue to respond to emergency calls without interruption, and essential operations will continue to ensure safe drinking water comes out of Toronto taps, snow is cleared, garbage is picked up and , of course, that vaccination efforts continue.

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The essential services coverage plan also includes overtime, shift extensions and callbacks, as there are fears that pandemic absences could reach up to 60% due to illness.

Officials say there will be no disruption to essential services, but low-risk and priority calls may have longer response times.

High risk and priority calls will always be handled first.

The City’s essential services are now operating at an average of 13.7% daily unplanned absences.

This does not include the police or the TTC.

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“The city’s COVID-19 Strategic Command team continues to monitor all essential and critical services to ensure enough personnel are available to support operations,” said Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who is also general manager of the office of emergency management.

Pegg said the city will respond to challenges as they arise.

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“We have effective and achievable plans to get essential services in place,” he said.

The city is also ensuring that children can return to school safely on January 17 for classroom learning.

Toronto Public Health is setting up clinics in schools starting this weekend and the school board is involved in scheduling appointments.

Michelle J. Kelley