Saskatoon

City looking to move employees from facilities that are closed into different positions

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to directly affect summer jobs with the city. City manager Jeff Jorgenson said the city is examining ways to move current employees from facilities that are currently closed into other positions for the spring and summer.

City also moves to close bridge walkways, shuts down transit to U of S campus

'I can tell you that we do see scaled back services to some degree this spring and summer,' says Saskatoon city manager Jeff Jorgenson. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to directly affect summer jobs with the City of Saskatoon.

City manager Jeff Jorgenson said the city is examining ways to move current employees from facilities that are currently closed into other positions for the spring and summer.

"When we look at the spring and summer programs typically they rely heavily on callback of staff," Jorgenson said during a video press conference.

"It's just a different world. We're not going to be performing the same amount of work, we're not going to be calling back the same numbers of people or hiring the same numbers of people, and we're actively looking to redeploy as much staff as we possibly can."

He said management and union leaders will work together to implement an adjusted staffing plan.

"So for example, we have staff that can't work right now because the leisure centres are closed and a number of civic facilities are closed. How can we redeploy those staff to other meaningful work?"

Jorgenson said the city will provide more details next week.

"But I can tell you that we do see scaled back services to some degree this spring and summer."

Saskatoon's city manager, Jeff Jorgenson, says they are going to redeploy employees from closed civic facilities into other jobs. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

Jorgenson said a couple of other challenges the city is grappling with is setting up employees to work from home and implementing new safety precautions for those that still have to work on location.

"Our core services like water, sewer, fire protection, and electrical services are in great shape and we have layers of redundancy and employee protection in place to ensure our staff remain safe," he said. 

City work projects adjusted

The city is also reviewing all of its contracts to see what work can go ahead and what work should be delayed.

For example, while the downtown is almost deserted they can do road paving or underground work, even if it wasn't planned for 2020, Jorgenson said.

On the other hand maybe holding off sewer and water work in residential areas.

"We've got people isolating at home and people throughout the city working from home as much as possible. We have to make sure that our construction programs are sensitive to the environment that we're in now to make sure that we're not putting more stress on people than we absolutely have to."

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark says now is the time to stand strong and maintain our social distancing. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

Transit and walkways

Six of seven transit employees who refused to work because they felt unsafe are back working.

They are working as operators or in alternate work assignments.

The city has added mid-route bus cleaning during the day at the downtown terminal.

Passengers will be required to exit the bus while all hard surfaces are wiped down.

And beginning Thursday buses will not be entering the University of Saskatchewan campus until further notice. 

The Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge walkway is now closed and the University Bridge walkways are now for one-way pedestrian traffic (one side westbound and one side eastbound). 

Social distancing

Mayor Charlie Clark reiterated the need for everyone to practise social distancing.

He said health-care workers are stepping up to risk their lives because they know how important it is and "they need to know we are all doing our part."

Clark said with Easter coming "it's difficult to think about the fact that we can't right now get together with our families and our loved ones. 

"This is the time we have to make those hard choices and find other ways to keep those social bonds strong by the phone, by Zoom, by all of the different ways that people can do it online."

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