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Omicron variant rips through Greater Sudbury municipal operations

A bus route has been cancelled, roadside collection delayed and staff redeployed to assist at Pioneer Manor as employees call in sick or isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19
GOVAWinter6
(File)

Various municipal operations are being affected by low staffing levels due to employees having to isolate due to potential exposures or illness.

“We’re starting to see some challenges in terms of workforce,” city executive director of Strategic Initiatives, Communications and Citizen Services Ian Wood told city council on Tuesday, pointing to several areas of municipal operations as being affected.

With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing due to the more contagious Omicron variant, more people have been required to quarantine. At the latest update, Public Health Sudbury and Districts is encouraging people who feel ill to assume they have the coronavirus and to self-isolate.

On Monday, Greater Sudbury libraries and citizen service centres shifted to curbside and counter services only, which Wood said “allows us to be more flexible and ensure we can keep running the libraries with a smaller staff contingent.”

Meanwhile, approximately 20 staff from other municipal operations have been redeployed to the Pioneer Manor long-term care home in order to help keep things running as unencumbered by the pandemic as possible.

“Particularly in the support services,” Wood said. “Not the direct hands-on care – leaving that to the experts – but providing that back-end support in laundry and food services and that kind of thing from other departments in to help them adjust to some of the staffing-level impacts that they’re seeing.”

Effective today, GOVA Transit is temporarily suspending Route 4 Laurentian University via Paris Street due to staffing levels.

“That’s a decision taken as a result of ridership number analysis,” city CAO Ed Archer said. “If we continue to experience driver shortages, then the next-lowest route activity levels will drive where further adjustments will be made.”

Roadside collection in New Sudbury might also be delayed, due to the collection contractor experiencing worker shortages.

DZ-licensed drivers are difficult to come by, Archer said, and finding people able to meet the physical demands of waste collection is even more difficult.

On occasion, pickup times will take longer, he said, and in some cases routes will be left incomplete and completed the following day. 

The current wave of COVID-19 has created effects across the municipality, and Archer said they are expected to continue.

“We are taking every step reasonable to plan and appropriately respond, with a focus on our highest-need services first.”



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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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