Some changes to Brock Township staffing levels in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Brock Township has released a comprehensive review of municipal staffing decisions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The information is included in a report that will be up for discussion at Monday’s (May 11) meeting of council detailing the impact the health crisis has had on the municipality.

It reads:

“In response to decisions made by the upper levels of government and public health authorities, the Township implemented certain measures to protect staff while maintaining critical services. These measures include the implementing of systems to encourage social distancing and providing the technology for staff to work from home when possible.

Management met with the Union to develop a plan to keep all full time unionized staff working by redeploying some to assist with arena maintenance while those still in the works depot were assigned vehicles where it was possible for each employee to ride alone rather than in pairs. This plan allows for proper social distancing while allowing staff to continue to address essential tasks.

Management also worked with Information Technology (IT) staff to set up devises that would allow staff working in the Municipal Administration building to work remotely. The building is staffed most days with one person from each department. This person deals with issues that cannot be dealt with remotely and is able to practice proper social distancing due to the limited number of coworkers present. By proving secure VPN access to the internal IT networks and the use of Township spare cell phones staff have been able to effectively continue their regular work remotely.

Measures and actions have also been taken to take every reasonable precaution for the protection of our employees as required by the Occupational Health & Safety Act. These include limiting the access by the public or third parties to Township facilities. The installation of a door bell unit allows for deliveries or critical prearranged appointment to continue in a controlled setting. Additional personal protective equipment and supplies have been ordered for the use of front lines staff. Stations have been set up for staff to allow for self—temperature testing and sanitizing. These practices along with a reporting protocol for illness are intended to ensure the safety of workers.

In an effort to allow for proper social distancing and keep controllable costs to a minimum it was necessary to lay off casual, contract and temporary part time staff in most departments. This included eight Crossing Guards not required due to school closures; five casual labourers working in the arenas that were closed before the end of the normal ice season; nine Rink workers that were not needed once the arenas were closed; one cleaner who was not required for a closed rental facility; and six part time library employees that were not required with the facilities closed. While some of these employees would have been laid off at the end of the season they were let go ahead of time due to the facility closures.

In addition to the layoffs related to closures there were three employees who left the Township’s employ during this period. The vacancies created in these positions currently not being filled however senior management is constantly monitoring staff levels and may have to fill one or more of these vacancies depending on the length of the state of emergency.

The Township’s Senior Management Team continues to closely track the availability of meaningful work to ensure our staffing response is appropriate. This is being done with consideration to the Township‘s fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.

Barta also provided members of council with a timeline of KEY DATES AND ACTIONS related to COVID-19 as well as a review of the pandemic’s FINANCIAL IMPACT on the municipality.

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