Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads out the net
Toronto is set to be one of the hardest-hit economies when the COVID-19 crisis is over. While municipal leaders have been talking about resuming services, they’re not talking about the return-to-work initiatives that keep workers employed in the face of a virus that has now crossed the globe.
On Thursday, the Toronto Board of Education and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) were among 22 Ontario government agencies that were suspended from paying their employees. The government also froze payment to some companies that had been delivering work for workers through the Ministry of Finance, and froze the transfer of funds from these companies to their creditors.
“The board and education have decided to move off a return-to-business initiative,” said Toronto Community Housing spokesperson Nancy Shute. “We are moving our delivery of social housing services out as there are no public funds available for housing.”
Toronto Community Housing (TCF) says it won’t be paying its 1,000 employees in the next month, and has decided to move its social housing delivery out of a service the city had been providing.
“We don’t have any funds to continue these services through the city,” said TCF spokesperson Nancy Shute. “We’ve made this decision based on the public health recommendations and on the province’s public health guidelines.”
That means that for the time being, Toronto’s schools and the City of Toronto will have to pick up the load.
There’s a real sense around here that the city might be able to survive COVID-19 and not have to turn to the same kind of help the province was providing. There’s still an argument that the province could have paid for the service, but as well it could have paid for some workers to stay on with the same health care they’ve been providing since mid-March. That would have made the pandemic worse.
The idea that the province had money to hand out or that city workers don’t have enough health care is a long-running part of the debate over the pandemic. They seem to be fighting over the same money: $9 billion from the province will be spent on COVID-19, and the city is asking for $