News Release
January 6, 2022

In response to the rapidly spreading and highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant, the City of Toronto is focused on ensuring essential and critical City services are protected and continue to be delivered. As such, the City is outlining its tiered staff redeployment plan should it be required as a result of a high number of unplanned staff absences due to illness and COVID-19 isolation requirements, with worst-case plans accounting for absences as high as 60 per cent.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has deployed staff to meet the highest-priority needs as they arise and will continue to allocate staff as needed to ensure key services continue. Robust mitigation plans are in place to ensure that essential services continue to be delivered across the city without interruption.

Mitigation tactics can include the use of overtime, shift extensions, call-backs and redeployments where appropriate.

Staff are currently being redeployed to assist in vaccination clinics, City-run shelters, the City’s 10 long-term care homes and other critical and essential services as required. Hundreds of staff from these divisions are also being reassigned to support other functions within their division, in the areas that require it most.

The City’s tiered staff redeployment plan includes the following four stages:

  1. Staff previously redeployed in the initial wave of COVID-19 in 2020.
  2. Staff assigned to City services that are scaled-down and/or temporarily suspended as a result of the Province’s latest protective measures, including Parks, Forestry & Recreation (PFR) part-time staff as well as some seasonal staff who were not currently working. The City is currently in this stage.
  3. Staff identified as being able to pause their current work to support areas in greater need.
  4. Staff volunteering to be redeployed and able to leave their base position.

Unplanned increases in staff absences will influence any decision to move into stage 3, and if necessary, stage 4.

The City reactivated its Emergency Operations Centre in December to, in part, initiate the staff redeployment plan. It is currently progressing through stage 2 – staff assigned to City services that are scaled down and/or temporarily suspended as a result of the Province’s latest protective measures, including PFR part-time staff. At this time, there are more than 100 employees who have already started or are ready for redeployment with approximately 1,000 staff identified for potential redeployment assignments in the coming days and weeks. Additional employees will be added to this redeployment pool as the City’s redeployment team moves through stage two and into future stages of the redeployment plan, if needed.

Emergency services continue to respond to emergency calls without interruption. Higher-risk and higher-priority calls will always be responded to first before lower-risk and lower-priority calls. Response times, particularly for low-priority calls, may increase from pre-pandemic levels; however, each of the City’s emergency services are proactively deploying resources to deal with absences and ensure the City remains safe.

The City’s emergency and essential services are currently operating with an average of 13.7% unplanned absences daily. On a City-wide basis, divisions are operating with an average of 11.1%, excluding agencies that include police and the TTC.


“The City’s tiered approach to staff redeployment will ensure essential and critical City services remain operational even as we see increased staff absences due to the Omicron variant. We are laser focused on the continuation of essential and critical City services that residents rely on. Toronto’s emergency services will continue to respond to emergency calls without interruption, and critical operations will continue so that safe drinking water comes out of Toronto taps, the snow gets cleared, the garbage gets picked up, and of course, vaccination efforts continue. I want to thank all City employees who are continuing to do their job and provide needed services to residents and all of those employees who have stepped forward and volunteered – some for a second time – for redeployment.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Throughout the pandemic, Torontonians have come to rely on essential and critical City services, and we will take every possible measure to ensure these services continue. I am pleased to see many City staff willing and able to be redeployed in order to maintain the essential and critical services expected by residents. My heartfelt thanks to them all.”

– Chris Murray, City Manager

“The City’s COVID-19 Strategic Command Team continues to monitor all essential and critical services to ensure sufficient staff is available to support operations. The Team continues to work with the City’s Business Continuity Task Force, People & Equity Division and the Senior Leadership Team to identify and redeploy staff as effectively and efficiently as possible. Thank you to the entire Toronto Public Service, especially staff who have raised their hands to be redeployed, for their continued support and dedication to the City and the residents of Toronto.”

– Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management


Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations