June 19th, 2024

New health measures to be implemented for City staff

By Trevor Busch - LETHBRIDGE HERALD on September 8, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtbusch@lethbridgeherald.com

Escalating cases of COVID-19 have prompted the province to reintroduce health measures like mandatory masking, and the City of Lethbridge in now applying its own set of protocols for employees.
City manager Craig Dalton told media on Tuesday that employees will be further encouraged to work from home when able to do so effectively.
“So the first thing we’re doing is obviously complying with those (provincial measures), and those relate to mandatory masking in public facilities and public spaces indoors, and also the recommendation to – where possible – return to a remote work posture,” said Dalton. “We were doing that on our own prior to the announcement and we’re certainly aligning with that provincial guidance.”
Dalton announced the new measures to all City staff on Friday afternoon following the provincial health announcement.
“From the City perspective, we’re reinstating some staff health and safety protocols that we had in place previously and we relaxed around early July, when the numbers and the hospitalization rates indicated that it was safe to do so, and when the province relaxed its health orders. So for us that means, again, complying with the recent health order put out last Friday, going back to mandatory masking for staff, working from home where at all possible.”
One of the key measures touched on by Dalton was the City’s intention to implement a mandatory testing program for employees, but one that allows for an opt out for the fully vaccinated.
“The last thing we’re doing as a corporation is moving to what we’re describing at the moment as a mandatory testing program for those that do have to work in the workplace, especially our operational staff – we have a lot of folks that work that work on the operational side of the business each and every day – and so we are implementing a mandatory testing program, which will require folks to be screened, tested to access the workplace to perform their duties, but we’re allowing for an opt-out for those that are fully vaccinated.”
The City anticipates the employee rapid testing program will be handled by a contractor who will implement testing, which could take several weeks to become operational. Rapid testing will be mandatory for all employees with the option to opt out with proof of full vaccination.
The potential cost involved with such a program was not something Dalton was able to readily answer on Tuesday, and instead indicated the City was taking a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s a great question, and to be frank, it’s one we’re still working through. We wanted to give our employees, our staff a heads up that we were moving down this road. Most jurisdictions and organizations, private and public, that have gone down this road have given themselves a 6-8 week runway, if you will, to work through the logistical implications. And so we’re still working through that.”
Currently, staff who have the ability to work from home are being mandated to do so and in alignment with the provincial guidelines, all staff are required to wear face coverings in City facilities, vehicles and whenever there is no physical barrier or distancing of two meters is not possible.
“As the pandemic continues to evolve, we need to evolve as an organization, and really make sure that we’re taking the steps that we can take within our area of responsibility to do what we can to protect the health and safety, or ensure the health and safety of our staff, the health and safety of citizens, and importantly, to make sure that we have good business continuity plans in place and that we’re able to continue to provide essential services to citizens,” said Dalton.
For details on the provincial guidelines visit http://www.alberta.ca/covid.

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