Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads blame
With the city council meeting beginning in less than 24 hours, some city employees were caught off guard by what they learned at a closed cabinet meeting Thursday.
In the meeting minutes, the city clerk and deputy city clerk both said they’d prefer to go back to work Monday instead of taking up positions elsewhere.
The meeting prompted the Omicron Institute to write an Op-Ed in the local paper, calling for more discussion and communication between employees and city staff about the return-to-work issue.
But after the meeting, city council began discussing the matter.
“We’re here to figure out what the heck is going on,” council told the Star. “The employees want to go back to work, but they’re not sure what the city is going to do to them.”
The city clerk and deputy city clerk both said in the meeting that they believed their first choice would be to work for another agency.
“They’re frustrated,” council member Mike Layton told the Star. “Somebody said, ‘I’d like to go back to work, but I want a job, and I don’t have it. Do you want to hire me?”
“It wasn’t a very good meeting,” city clerk Pat McHenry said. “I’m sure it was frustrating for some people.”
City staff suggested that the city manager be involved in the return-to-work process.
“Our staff would be looking to engage with and get their feedback to the city manager in terms of what they need in terms of a return-to-work plan,” McHenry said.
After the meeting, McHenry and director Tom O’Neil told reporters that both had been working overtime because of “exceptional circumstances.”
“There was another cabinet meeting at the same time [the Thursday meeting], so I wasn’t able to get everything together to send them out with the right information,” McHenry said. “I’m sorry the situation didn’t work out as well as it should have.”
O’Neil added that he felt the situation could be resolved by discussing it with