In response to extended closures and the suspension of non-essential services by the Province of Ontario, Haldimand County has made the difficult decision to temporarily put a number of casual, part-time and full time employees affected by service and facility closures on a Declared Emergency Leave of Absence.
Since the declaration of the COVID-19 Emergency the County has closed all public libraries, parks and recreation facilities, museums, community halls and has reduced other services to promote social distancing.
“We have wonderful and committed employees who care very much about their community,” said Craig Manley, Haldimand County’s Chief Administrative Officer. “This is an action we had hoped we would not have to take but unfortunately one we needed to as COVID-19 continues to affect our community and some of the services we’re able to deliver.”
The emergency leave affects approximately 107 employees who deliver recreation programs, library & cultural services, economic development services, some facilities maintenance staff, some administrative support functions, part-time staff and others. Essential and critical services relating to roads operations, water and wastewater services, garbage and recycling, critical maintenance and repair, by-law and permits, emergency services, Grandview Lodge and essential supporting functions continue to be provided.
Some functions such as building maintenance and outside park maintenance will continue on a limited basis and will be restricted to essential minimum levels until the emergency is over. Where possible, staff have been redeployed to other functions to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.
The County is supporting staff affected by the temporary emergency leave including continuing eligible benefits, ensuring they have the resources they need to access government support services including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and/or employment insurance benefits.
The County has been taking a tiered approach in its response to COVID-19, which includes evaluating the implications of Provincial Emergency Orders and information provided by Health Officials in terms of the likely duration of the emergency. Like other municipalities facing extended closures and cancellations, the County is adapting to ensure the safety of its workforce and the continued delivery of critical community services.
“The County will continue to provide the critical and essential services our community relies on every day as we continue responding to this unprecedented situation,” noted Manley.
“The decision to reduce our staffing levels was an extremely challenging one. We’ve made extended efforts to keep all staff at work for as long as possible, but under these extraordinary circumstances, have had to make some difficult decisions that are in line with a new economic reality. Our commitment to providing high quality services to the community remains unchanged in this emergency, and I look forward to welcoming staff back once COVID-19 is no longer a threat to public health & safety,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.