Toronto backtracks on return-to-office plans for city employees as Omicron spreads
The Liberal government of Ontario has been forced to retreat on its original plan to bring back city employees to work under a new system that would have made them all full-time employees.
With the premier’s office on Wednesday saying it won’t make a decision on whether to follow through on the decision until the end of the month, Ontario’s top bureaucrat said the government is holding off on returning city employees to full-time work while it examines the future of the province’s public sector.
“We don’t have that decision yet,” said Rick Leary, president and CEO of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Leary said the office of the premier, which handles employee issues, will decide if current city employees can return to work during a meeting on Nov. 3. That meeting has been scheduled to occur during the week of Oct. 25.
Although he said the Premier’s Office hasn’t made a final decision on the return-to-work proposal, Leary said the government has received a lot of feedback, including from the city of Toronto. He told reporters that city officials met with the province’s senior bureaucrat, who then suggested he had received similar feedback from city council and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
The provincial bureaucracy took the same stance as the city, Leary said.
“We’re taking this very seriously. It’s an important issue for the government,” he said.
“The government will review the information in this report very carefully and come back to council with a recommendation,” he said.
Asked whether the office of the premier had said it would wait on a decision on the employee proposal, Leary said: “Not in the last few weeks.”
But Leary added that if the government’s review of the situation concludes that a decision is needed, it will move ahead with the proposal.
“If the decision turns out the city is not a priority, then the government will go back and make a decision,” he said.
The province appears to be taking a more flexible approach to the return-to-work issue, making it a less-controversial issue, Leary said.