Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads fear and confusion
It’s been more than a week since Mayor John Tory announced that the city is coming back to the office at City Hall. On Friday, he’ll go live with that message.
In the meantime, some members of Torontonians’ daily lives are likely to take a turn for the worse, if they are not already – thanks to a plan dubbed Omicron.
The online service will let users look up their city tax information, send messages to their local candidates, and organize their city council meetings. The idea for an online “citizen’s council” has its roots in the city’s 2014 amalgamation, when the Torontonian said at the time: “The City of Toronto is a big, sprawling organization that often has great difficulty in finding people, getting things done, and getting the community to participate in decision-making.”
With Tory back at the helm, that promise for citizen participation will likely become a reality. And that change should also be welcomed by the hundreds of employees who report to city hall.
But as this month has turned into the most unpredictable City of Toronto workweek of my 22-year-long career in the public sector, at least one city employee has begun to wonder how she — and many workers like her — can continue making an impact without access to City Hall.
“Is this going to be a massive burden to city employees?”
This is the question Mayor John Tory has been asked by people on Twitter and other online venues since the government announced its plans to return to city hall at the end of this week.
A key part of the return-to-office agenda involves removing the “employer” from the city payroll system, making it possible for staff to work from home, and eliminating the need for employees to show up in person at meetings, board meetings and other public gatherings.
According to an email from Councillor Mike Layton, the changes will likely take place between Monday and Wednesday next week, with the city going back to the office at City Hall on Tuesday.
“As far as