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Saskatoon works to maintain core services despite Omicron threat

City tries to keep its operations normal despite the pandemic
Circle Drive is one of the roads that is a priority for being cleared of snow.

SASKATOON — The City of Saskatoon is actively monitoring the Omicron variant and the impact on operations and the core services Saskatoon’s residents rely on even as the colour-coded risk level has moved to red-level status.

In fall of 2021, the city implemented a COVID-19 risk decision-making framework which presents a colour-coded risk level and measures for consideration at each level to city Council for approval near the end of each month that remain in place for the following month. For January 2022, the council-approved status is yellow (caution).

In the interim, the framework is updated weekly to monitor any changes in the primary indicators, but no potential changes are made to the framework until the next regular business meeting of city council — or if city council decides to hold a special meeting. The primary indicators for the current week of Jan. 5 indicate that Saskatoon has entered red-level status.

“We are anticipating and planning for the likelihood that city staff will need to be away from the workplace due to COVID-related illness and self-isolation resulting from the Omicron variant in our community. However, we want to stress to residents that core services are being maintained,” said Emergency Management Organization director Pamela Goulden-McLeod.

The city has a number of measures in place to mitigate the potential of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, including, but not limited to: an Employee Mandatory COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination or Proof of Negative Test Program, the requirement for all staff to complete a Fit For Duty health screening form prior to attending to the workplace, masking and physical distancing protocols, enhanced cleaning, physical barriers, and staff who have been working from home are continuing to do so, with in-person meetings discouraged at this time unless they are critical in nature.

“These measures have worked to keep our staff safe and services operating throughout previous waves of COVID-19, and we continue to enhance our safety plans and business continuity processes to respond to the fifth wave,” said Goulden-McLeod.

Core City Services

Goulden-McLeod says the core services currently continue. Garbage collection remains on schedule, roadways snow clearing is progressing as scheduled, water treatment remains reliable and safe, wastewater processes remain unaffected, city repair and maintenance projects are happening, Saskatoon Light & Power service remains unaffected.

Saskatoon Transit, Leisure Facilities, City Hall Lobby

Saskatoon Transit service is being affected by the cold weather while Leisure Centres, Indoor Arenas, and City Hall lobby remain open and operating with a focus on staff and customer safety under the current Public Heath Orders and previous direction of City Council. Cancellations and modifications have not been made to Leisure Centre or Indoor Arena programming at this time.

Emergency Services

Saskatoon Fire Department Chief Morgan Hackl said they not currently experiencing any significant staffing challenges.

“We continue to watch and plan for any impact of the Omicron variant on staffing levels by reviewing our business continuity plan to ensure that core safety services can continue to operate in the community."

Saskatoon Police Service Deputy Chief Mitch Yuzdepski says community safety measures remain firmly in place.

“The Saskatoon Police Service has a business continuity plan in place to ensure that there will be no disruption to front-line services. This plan includes folding-in other police units to support frontline resources as required.”

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