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Saskatoon delays return to work plan

The City of Saskatoon was initially looking at having staff working from home return to the workplace on Feb. 1. Kayle Neis / The Canadian Press

The City of Saskatoon has pushed back its return to the workplace plan until April at least.

This is due to the ongoing impact of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Adam Tittemore told the city’s governance and priorities committee on Monday.

Read more: Premier Moe says no new measures on the way for Saskatchewan

The city was initially looking at having staff return to the workplace on Feb. 1.

“We have deferred the return to the workplace for staff until April 1,” said Tittemore, the city clerk. “And as such, we’re bringing forward a recommendation to council to reconsider the resumption of in-person meetings starting in February.”

Three options were proposed by Tittemore for the resumption of in-person meetings: align it with the returned to the workplace plan, resume meetings in March with proper resources in place, or defer to the committee on a monthly basis.

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The committee members opted for council and committee meetings to resume in-person on April 1.

“A lot of other groups … not associated with city council and the city look to us to as to what we’re doing,” said Ward. 9 Coun. Bev Dubois. “So I just think I would prefer to just have that date set instead of dealing with it month to month.”

Read more: Sask. surge plan could move government workers to ‘non-medical’ health-care roles

An update on the city’s measures to mitigate the rise of COVID-19 was also presented to the committee.

City Manager Jeff Jorgenson recommended the city suspend the current framework and direct administration to continue compliance with all provincial public health measures.

He said although the framework has served the city well, any new COVID-19 wave will require the administration to update the framework.

“Risks are being managed at the department level throughout the city,” he told the committee. “So each department is working hard on their own continuity plans, and we are very confident in our current status and our go-forward status as well.”

Pamela Goulden-McLeod said 409 city staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, 244 in the last 24 days.

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“There’s no one specific area of city operations that is being impacted by these numbers,” said Goulden-McLeod, the city’s director of emergency management.

“City staff have been active in activating the business continuity plans to ensure services continue with significant increase in the positive COVID cases in our community.”

She added that said overall staffing absences for any reason, including COVID-19, are under five per cent for the whole organization.

“I believe that through all the planning and the creativity and the diligent work of our divisions and our staff, we are we are in a good situation going forward,” she said.

The COVID-19 comprehensive update now goes to city council for approval.

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