Mississauga has a plan to maintain essential services even though 40% of the workforce is sick

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says the city has a plan in place that will allow it to maintain essential and critical services even if up to 40% of its workforce is sick.

Crombie told reporters Friday morning that Mississauga remains in a “very stable position” despite an increase in unplanned absences amid a worsening fourth wave of the pandemic.

But she said there are plans in place to “redeploy staff from non-essential roles to essential roles if necessary”, which could see some services reduced or stopped.

“We have a business continuity plan that allows us to prioritize and maintain essential and critical services, even if staff shortages were to reach 40%,” she said. “While we hope never to get to that point, we are prepared to scale operations up or down across the organization based on currently available staff.”

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kieran Moore, said employers across all sectors should be prepared for absenteeism rates between 20-30% as Omicron continues to trigger an exponential increase in cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

During Friday’s briefing, Crombie said there have already been impacts to transit service due to unplanned absences, with Miway being forced to cancel service on two routes – 101/101A Dundas Express and 107 Malton Express – and reduce service on another.

However, she said the city’s emergency services were able to continue operations mostly unaffected thanks to the halting of some training and the redeployment of some resources.

“I want to assure residents that all things considered, our city and our frontline emergency services are ready and available to respond when you need them,” she said. “That being said, they need our help to reduce non-emergency pressure on the system. We therefore ask that you only call 911 if you experience an emergency and I mean a medical or fire emergency.

Hospitals strained by increased absences

Crombie did not provide specific data on unplanned absences, but in Toronto, officials said about 13% of workers now regularly take sick.

This compares to an unplanned absence rate of around 3.4% before the pandemic.

The increase in absences due to positive COVID-19 cases or exposures is having a particularly pronounced impact on hospitals, which are also dealing with higher patient volumes.

Karli Farrow, who is president and CEO of Trillium Health Partners, said at Friday’s briefing that about 350 workers were absent due to COVID-19 yesterday and “that number continues to rise.”

She said that in order to address staffing shortages, Trillium has already redeployed around 150 staff “from other areas of the hospital, including places like surgery” and is also working with regional partners to help alleviate some of the pressure he faces.

Meanwhile, Region of Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr Lawrence Loh said the rapid spread of COVID-19 within the community means we will increasingly find ourselves in a “period of transition” where the focus will be on ‘preventing severity rather than infection’. himself.

Because of this, he said things like testing would become less important in the general community.

In fact, public health officials are now urging anyone with symptoms to assume they have contracted COVID-19 and self-isolate for at least five days.

“While rapid tests are certainly important, particularly in high-risk settings, more broadly in the community, their usefulness is rapidly diminishing,” Loh said. “When you have a forest that’s all on fire, it’s less important to try to figure out which trees are on fire and more important to try to protect those high-risk environments, those high-risk settlements that might be in that area. .”

Michelle J. Kelley