Ontario Independent

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Thousands of civil servants’ plans to return to work have been put on hold

Thousands of civil servants' plans to return to work have been postponed.

Key takeaways:

  • Tens of thousands of civil servants have been forced to work remotely once more due to concerns about the Omicron variant.
  • Approximately 10,000 additional civil servants, or about 25% of the city’s total workforce, will be affected by this decision.

Concerns about the Omicron variant have forced tens of thousands of civil servants to work remotely once more.

The Ontario Public Service and the City of Toronto had planned a broader return to work in the New Year, but both announced on Monday that those plans had been put on hold due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 case counts.

The news means that approximately 30,000 OPS employees who began a gradual return to work at the beginning of November will be working remotely full-time by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, in the wake of new advice from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore, the City of Toronto has decided to put its plans to have employees return to work part-time as of January 4 on hold.

Also read: Ontario has reported 1,536 new cases of COVID-19, with a 5.5 % positivity rate

Approximately 10,000 additional civil servants, or about 25% of the city’s total workforce, will be affected by this decision.

“In light of the new provincial advice, the city manager has advised employees who can work remotely to do so until the public health advice changes.” “I remain as committed as ever to Toronto’s recovery from this pandemic, and adhering to public health advice – particularly at this period with the new Omicron variant – will assist us in doing so and ensure that Toronto returns stronger than ever,” Mayor John Tory stated in a press conference announcing the change in plans.

As recently as last week, Tory defended the city’s plans for a broader return to the office, telling reporters that he hoped it would send an “important signal to other workplaces in both the private and public sectors that we can safely return and reinvigorate the economy.”

Yet, the 4th wave of the pandemic has rapidly worsened since then, with cases of the Omicron variant doubling every three days.

Thousands of civil servants' plans to return to work have been postponed
Thousands of civil servants’ plans to return to work have been postponed. Image from Fierce Pharma

On Friday, Moore said that employers should be “vigilant” and ask their employees to work remotely “wherever possible.”

“The city continues to show that employee and public health and safety are top priorities and that all decisions are based on science and evidence.” I’m confident that the city’s office staff will continue to be extremely productive and inventive while working remotely. 

In a press release issued Monday afternoon, City Manager Chris Murray said, “I look forward to welcoming staff back to offices when it is safe to do so.”

One of the OPS’s largest unions, AMAPCEO, said in a memo sent to its members and obtained by CTV News Toronto that the province has “paused” the return to work plan until February 7 “at the earliest.”

It’s unclear whether the city’s other large employers planning broader returns will follow suit. Employees at the Bank of Nova Scotia’s headquarters will return to work in stages beginning January 17.

Source: CP24

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