Toronto postpones bringing city workers back to offices fearing Omicron variant
It looks like plans to bring City of Toronto workers back to the office have fallen flat, kiboshed by the threat of the new Omicron variant.
Basing the decision on changes to provincial public health guidelines announced this past Friday, which recommended employers allow their workforces to continue operating remotely, the city has indefinitely shelved return plans for the approximately 25 per cent of its workforce of over 33,000 that uses office space.
Skeleton crews that have been staffing counters at public buildings like City Hall and civic centres since August will remain on the job, though it seems most will be nesting in their home offices well into the new year.
The city states that return plans will be reintroduced once these provincial public health guidelines expire, but it's anyone's guess how long that will take as weekly rolling average case counts climb higher and the province frantically rolls out its booster program.
"Given the new provincial advice, the City Manager has advised employees who are able to work remotely to continue to do so until the public health advice changes," said Mayor John Tory.
"I remain as committed as ever to Toronto's recovery from this pandemic, and to continuing to adhere to public health advice – particularly at this time with the new Omicron variant – will help us do so and ensure that Toronto comes back stronger than ever," continued Tory.
Some people in the Twitterverse saw this setback coming a mile away when the reopening plans were revealed, a couple of weeks before ultimately being scrapped.
@JohnTory Didn't a bunch of us say you should have held off on the announcement a few weeks ago till we knew what omicron was bringing? Glad this has been updated. Hopefully this is a lesson learned for the Mayor's advisors about playing offence when we should be playing defence— drdannyw (@drdannyw) December 13, 2021
At the time of the Nov 30 announcement, one commenter who identifies as a city employee questions the point of maintaining office space altogether when the real estate could arguably be put to better use.
As a metro hall staff who has been WFH, this move has nothing to do with improving our work, and everything to do with the City's desire to rebuild businesses in the downtown core. Tory should instead turn redundant offices into affordable neighbourhoods.— Jaclyn B (@jaclynb_to) December 1, 2021
The latest rollback comes amid a flurry of other concerning news that feels like a reboot of the quickly-developing situation back in early 2020, including an upcoming Toronto Raptors game being postponed in response to an outbreak.
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