City of Winnipeg outlines plan to address anticipated changes to provincial Public Health Orders
Released: 1:27 p.m.
Winnipeg, MB – The City of Winnipeg has outlined potential changes to its operations, programs, and services in anticipation of the next set of provincial Public Health Orders.
Provincial officials signaled their intention to adjust future Public Health Orders to remove proof of vaccination requirements effective March 1, and lift mask requirements and other restrictions effective March 15.
“While we won’t know the full details or implications of these anticipated measures until such time as we see updates to the provincial Public Health Orders, our Emergency Operations Centre is nonetheless continuing to work closely with civic departments to plan for these two eventualities and their potential impacts on our programs, services, and operations,” said Michael Jack, the City of Winnipeg’s Chief Administrative Officer.
Assuming proof of vaccination requirements are completely removed from the provincial Public Health Orders effective March 1, it’s anticipated that the City will lift that requirement to enter City facilities and to participate in programs. In addition, the mandatory testing program for our employees who have not provided proof of vaccination or were granted an exemption or accommodation would end.
To date, approximately 97% of our front-line employees who have ongoing contact with vulnerable residents, including children under 12, or work in higher-risk settings with direct, ongoing contact with the public are fully vaccinated, well-above the provincial average of individuals who have received at least two doses.
If mask requirements are completely removed from the provincial Public Health Orders effective March 15, it’s anticipated that we will no longer require masks in our facilities and on-board Transit vehicles for members of the public; rather, it will be strongly encouraged instead.
“While it would be our preference to maintain a mandatory mask requirement for members of the public independent of the anticipated provincial orders, it’s just not feasible,” said Jack. “We do not have the resources to properly enforce it, nor do we want to put our employees in potentially confrontational situations.”
However, the mask requirement for City employees will be maintained for the foreseeable future. Other current health and safety measures in our workplaces, such as plexiglass barriers, physical distancing, encouraging the completion of the self-screening questionnaire before reporting to work, and employee symptomatic testing, will be maintained.
More information will be provided in due course, pending the review of the anticipated provincial Public Health Orders.
Flexible & remote workplace arrangements
Currently, approximately 1,800 City employees are working remotely, or approximately 17% of our workforce; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these employees are all working remotely all of the time, as some may be splitting their time between their residence and their workplace to meet operational or personal needs.
Throughout the pandemic, the Public Service has explored options for temporary and long-term remote work arrangements. In the fall of 2021, a Flexible Workplace Steering Committee was tasked with recommending a framework for remote and hybrid work arrangements, informed in part by interviews with senior management, employee surveys, and a review of practices undertaken by peer organizations.
“While our work is ongoing, we are intending to implement a flexible and remote work program for eligible employees which will allow us to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness and adapt to evolving service and workforce needs, while continuing to provide quality service to our customers,” said Jack. “The implementation of such a program will help position the City as an employer of choice, one that values flexibility in where and how work is performed, and allow us to retain and attract top talent in an increasingly competitive environment.”
As the COVID-19 landscape continues to evolve, the City will ensure that any return to the workplace will be done gradually, and with the health and safety of our employees as a top priority. Employees will have the option to start returning to the workplace come March 1, including participating in-person at committee meetings.
For more information on the City’s response to COVID-19, see: winnipeg.ca/COVID-19.
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