About 400 city employees called back as Winnipeg plans to reopen pools, animal services

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg calls 400 workers back; some services and programs resuming' Winnipeg calls 400 workers back; some services and programs resuming
Winnipeggers looking to cool off in an outdoor or wading pool won't have to wait too much longer. Global's Marney Blunt has more on the City's efforts to bring some services back online – Jun 16, 2020

About 400 city employees who were temporarily laid off amid COVID-19 will be getting called back to work starting this week.

This comes as the City of Winnipeg announces it will be reopening outdoor pools, wading pools, and animal services.

In April, 674 non-permanent city staff who worked at city-owned recreation centres, pools, arenas and libraries were laid off as the city closed down public facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Hundreds of City of Winnipeg employees temporarily laid off due to coronavirus


“These decisions were difficult but they were in response to provincial public health orders that were put into place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flatten the curve, and as a result, (there was) a reduction in demand for city services,” Mayor Brian Bowman said during a press conference Tuesday.

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Combined with 222 Winnipeg Transit bus operators that were also laid off in April, COVID-19 left about 927 city workers out of a job. Mayor Bowman says that makes up about nine per cent of Winnipeg’s municipal workforce.

City-owned outdoor pools and 33 wading pools are set to reopen on July 3, at the earliest. City of Winnipeg emergency operations manager says they are focusing on wading pools in higher needs areas of the city.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: City of Winnipeg shutting down pools, libraries

Capacity will be reduced at the pools, strict cleaning protocols put in place and residents will also have to book two-hour pool blocks in advance.

Swimmers also need to come prepared to swim as lockers won’t be available, and change rooms, washrooms and showers will have limited use. Pool users will also have to physical distance both in and out of the water, unless they are from the same household.

Swimmers will also have to screen for symptoms before using the pool facilities.

“There are detailed plans that the province has laid in terms of how you open up pool facilities and that does add some challenges,” Shaw said. “But they’re good things to make people safe. So we have to follow that and we have to train our staff so that we can implement those measures.”

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There is still no word on when other city services, including indoor pools, will reopen. City officials say approximately 200 city staff remain laid off.

Animal services are also partially reopening as of Wednesday, June 17 and will have stringent sanitary and physical distancing protocols in place.

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