Municipal public service to adopt ‘hybrid’, but no permanent homework

Mayor Steve Kanellakos says 75 percent of municipal employees have continued to get to work every day since heavy public health restrictions began in March 2020.

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24-hour municipal public employees will not be allowed to log in from a tropical resort while doing urban business under a “hybrid” model implemented by the top bureaucrat.

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While Mayor Steve Kanellakos says the municipal government will be flexible with staff, they will be asked to come to the office when their bosses say so.

‚ÄúThis does not mean that people can stay at home permanently and never have to enter our municipal buildings or get to work. I certainly do not support that there would be this permanent character of ‘you never have to show up’ or you could go down to Jamaica and work from Jamaica and never have to come back to the office, Kanellakos said on Wednesday during a media conference.

“I do not think that is the way to run a city.”

Kanellakos says management is creating space in municipal buildings where people can work temporarily, often known as “hotel areas,” while other staff may have permanent workstations.

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There are more than 14,000 full-time and 8,000 part-time employees in Ottawa’s municipal government, including police officers and health units.

Kanellakos said 75 percent of municipal employees had continued to get to work every day since heavy public health restrictions began in March 2020, illustrating the municipal government’s work to provide important public services in the area, such as public transport, weather repair and paramedics effort.

Only municipal employees working in the three major administrative buildings – Ottawa City Hall, Mary Pitt Center and Ben Franklin Place – went to work from home, Kanellakos said.

Just over 4,000 employees work out of these three buildings, and about 48 percent of them are left in the office in various capacities, some days away from home and some in the office, Kanellakos said. The other employees will begin the hybrid work process in the new year.

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The city council is still meeting exclusively at video conferencing, but Mayor Jim Watson is hoping he can join colleagues in the council chamber in January, at least in some form. The city clerk is deciding when the council can meet in person again and how it will work with the ongoing public health measures, Watson said.

The city would have to consider how many members of the public would be allowed to enter the council chamber, and everyone would still have to wear masks, Watson said.

The town halls have been retrofitted with several plexiglass barriers. The transparent shields are mounted between the seats around the council table.

Wednesday’s media conference with city staff was followed by a lively council meeting with few contentious issues on the agenda. But in a close 13-11 vote, city council members supported a plan to build three one-story department stores at the intersection of Walkley and Conroy roads. Disagree councilors said the project was poorly located and would exacerbate traffic jams in the area.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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