Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads to more cities
Toronto’s new mayor, John Tory, has announced that the city will allow its workers to return to work in mid-April. The new measure may reduce Toronto’s labour shortage. But it’s also a backtrack on Toronto’s original promise to allow municipal employees to return early from sick and long-term leave.
That plan, as Tory explained on CBC Radio last week, meant that workers could return to work the week after Easter without being fired. The current collective agreement says that workers are entitled to 24 weeks of paid sick leave and two months of vacation each year.
But under Toronto’s original plans, employees would be able to return to work in March without any notice or pay. The province argues that employees who were not fired by the end of March could be rehired in October if they wanted to keep working. That means that employees could be working without a contract by April 21.
On Tuesday, Tory sent a letter to the Toronto City Council telling it what he had learned from two meetings with employees. The message was that he wanted to make sure that employees at a time when they were at the least overworked and at the most overworked would be able to return to work.
In a press release on Thursday, Tory’s office said that he had heard employees discuss “their concerns” regarding how the sick leave legislation would impact them and their families. Tory said that he had also heard from some employees who had worked for the city for more than 25 years who were concerned about the impact their hours would have on them. That prompted the new policy.
The city is also making a few other changes, including extending the deadline for those making C+E2 (continuous education, including professional development) payments for up to another year.
Catherine Abreu, a spokesperson for Tory, said that the changes were designed to support “people who need to make a change in their working lives.”
“In doing this, we are making sure that our municipal employee are able to continue doing their important work in a safe and secure environment, in a manner that supports our most valuable municipal workers,” Abreu said. “We will be sharing our new sick leave and C+E2 arrangements through our union, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.�