Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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City facilities and event closures extended until end of June; workforce adjustments

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This afternoon, Council received the following memo from the City Manager outlining the extension of the closures affecting large public gatherings and City facilities, as well as workforce adjustments. In a media briefing today, the Mayor stressed that the job reductions will be temporary.

As you are aware, the City closed public facilities and suspended non-essential services, activities and programs beginning March 16, in order to help flatten the curve and protect our residents and employees.

The City remains in a State of Emergency, and the City’s Emergency Operations Centre will continue to respond and coordinate all activities associated with keeping Ottawa safe.

In consultation with Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, and the Emergency Operations Control Group, the decision was made to extend the closure of City facilities, services and large public gatherings until June 30, 2020. No new facility use or special events permits will be issued by the City until the Medical Officer of Health declares it safe to do so, as part of a dedicated effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This decision will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Emergency Operations Control Group in consultation with Ottawa Public Health officials and federal and provincial governments. However, it is important to act now to continue to slow the spread of the virus and provide some degree of certainty on how the City will continue to deliver service during this evolving situation.

Furthermore, the following measures have been taken:

1. Temporary workforce adjustments

Due to the closure of City facilities and cancellation of programming, many part-time employees are without work. As a result, the City of Ottawa has worked in partnership with CUPE 503 to place approximately 4,000 part-time employees from the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department (RCFS) and approximately 280 part-time employees from the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) on an unpaid, job-protected legislated leave of absence, or declared emergency leave, under the Employment Standards Act. During the period that City facilities are closed, there is insufficient work for these employees and this negotiated agreement ensures that staff are not laid-off.

These are not permanent reductions and those impacted will retain their status as City of Ottawa employees. But by taking this step, the City is allowing part-time employees to apply for federal supports while facilities remain closed. This decision was necessary to ensure the financial well- being of our staff members.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank James Watson, President of CUPE 503, for his collaboration in developing a plan that is in the best interest of our employees.

I can assure you that we all look forward to the day that we can re-open our facilities, restore our impacted services, and bring our valued employees back to work.

2. Deferral of summer student employment program

At this time, the 2020 summer student employment program will be deferred until the end of May. A review of its viability will occur on a regular basis as the situation evolves.

3. Development of business continuity plan

During this unprecedented time, the City will continue to provide essential services to residents and support for our most vulnerable. In addition, City staff are working on a comprehensive business continuity plan to ensure the City’s finances remain stable, municipal services continue and that the full complement of City resources are optimized.

As we all respond to the impacts of COVID-19, the City of Ottawa is taking significant steps as an organization. Staff will provide a briefing to City Council on Wednesday, April 8 on the organization’s plan to effectively sustain and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

While managing the day-to-day operations, staff are also looking at what a return to our new normal might look like. Reopening facilities and reestablishing services will be done in a thoughtful, phased approach and in consultation with Ottawa Public Health. We anticipate that it may take many months to return the City to full service.

The path forward remains uncertain. As we near June 30, the City will continue to follow the guidance of Ottawa Public Health to limit the spread of the virus to protect employees and the residents we serve.

I know that now, more than ever, we will all come together, as a community – and we will be stronger.

Posted April 6, 2020