Back-to-office starts for federal workers
Yesterday the order to bring federal workers back to the office two or three days a week went into effect
Is it maybe time for us to take down our Christmas tree? Probably. But in the corner of the living room it gives off such nice light. So nice, we bought a lamp to replace the tree. Now, if it would just arrive…
Anyway, today we’ve got news about the public service returning to the office, some big changes to healthcare and more.
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Back-to-office starts for federal workers
What happened: Yesterday the order to bring federal workers back to the office two or three days a week went into effect. Despite this many workers are still without a plan for when their departments are returning to the office, CTV reported. All offices are expected to implement the order by March.
Problems expected: There are several problems expected as many workers return to the office for the first time in years. Not all government buildings are equipped with enough bandwidth to make video conferencing possible for in-person workers to video call their at-home colleagues.
The president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) union told CTV the government had done a lot of downsizing in the city and there aren’t enough workspaces for many employees.
Multiple unions have said returning to the office should be an issue at the bargaining table. PIPSC and the Public Service Alliance of Canada said they will file a complaint with the labour relations board over the order.
Effect on transit: OC Transpo has been facing a large budget gap because of its reliance on fares to cover its budget. The head of the transit service, Renée Amilcar, said she was “very happy” to see workers coming back, according to CBC. But the transit service doesn’t yet know how the returning workers will affect service.
It’s not clear if workers returning only a few days a week will be enough to bring ridership back to 2019 levels, or on what days more service might be needed. The LRT, and the bus Transitway before it, were largely designed around commuters, many of whom are now working hybrid schedules.
Alta Vista Coun. Marty Carr told CTV she worried public service workers may end up opting to drive rather than take transit because the cost of a monthly pass doesn’t make sense when only working in the office a few days a week.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🔺 6.3%: The annual inflation rate dropped to this in December, down from last summer’s peak of 8.1 percent. Groceries were a major contributor at 11 percent, down slightly from November’s 11.4 percent. The Bank of Canada is still expected to raise interest rates again. [The Canadian Press]
🌡️ 2.1 C: Over the last 149 years, Ottawa’s mean temperature has increased this much. [Ottawa Weather Records]
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🩺 The departure of three Orléans doctors is turning the east end into a “care desert” and new solutions need to be found. [CBC]
🎿 A group of elite nordic skiers from Chelsea had to wait four days for their equipment to show up for their world juniors qualifying race in BC. Soon after CTV got the story, they got their skis. [CTV]
🥅 Ila Hobbis of Kanata made the Great Britain women’s hockey team. She was born in England, but moved to the city as a child. [Stittsville Central]
🏒 The Barrhaven Independent has named World Juniors gold medal winner Brandt Clarke its 2022 person of the year. [Barrhaven Independent]
☃️ Meet the “Granny Groomers,” two women who help maintain the Britannia Winter Trail. [Ottawa Citizen]
📚 Richard and Linda Lussier have run the Help Our Students Program in Orléans for 12 years, providing money to students in need. [Orléans Star]
🚒 No one was injured by a serious house fire in Greely, it took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire under control. [CityNews]
Ontario opens surgeries to for-profit clinics
What happened: Premier Doug Ford announced the province will soon move some surgeries to private clinics, for profit and not-for-profit. The plan is to start with cataract surgeries, then imaging procedures like colonoscopies, then next year start doing hip and knee replacements, CTV reported.
The government said patient costs would be covered by OHIP.
The hope: The government hopes the plan will reduce wait times for surgeries, CBC reported. The backlog of surgeries is only now returning to the level of about 200,000 people, which it was at before the disruptions of the pandemic.
The risks: Critics warned there are several risks to the public and the public system with the plan. Patients may be upsold on procedures that they will have to pay for out of pocket, CTV reported. Hospitals worry private clinics will lure away much-needed staff, and the government would not say whether it would cap wages in clinics it allows to conduct surgeries to prevent this.
There is not yet a plan for how to do this. In its press release, the government said it was looking forward to working with its partners to find a way to not exacerbate the staffing crisis.
One ER doctor told CBC: “This plan provides us new places to provide surgery, but it doesn't provide us any new people to provide surgery."
Public solutions? The staffing crisis in healthcare has become particularly acute recently. ER and other departments shutting down is becoming more routine in Ottawa and across the province. Healthcare workers have said the major issues are low wages and a provincial bill that caps healthcare wage increases to one percent. The government knows this is a problem, Global News reported, but has not acted to fix it.
This has an even larger effect when inflation is above six percent as it is now. Rather than address this, the government has turned to private options instead.
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
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Check the listing to see what it costs to live your dream(?)
⛸️ The NCC still doesn’t know when the Canal will open for skating. Because there has been no sustained cold spell, the ice is still in poor shape. [CTV]
✉️ More than 140,000 people have made their vacant unit tax declarations nine days after the site opened. Follow-up letters will go out later this month to remind homeowners. [CBC]
🏥 CHEO has started treating teens again, as some of the pressure on the overburdened hospital has come off. Since November, the children’s hospital had been sending older kids to adult hospitals for treatment. [CTV]
🚨 A social media account posting hateful messages about Sir Robert Borden High School students is being investigated by the police hate crimes unit. [Ottawa Citizen]
🏛️ Budget season at city hall is ramping up with numerous meetings and public consultations in the coming weeks. [Ottawa Citizen]
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A kindergarten class in Amherstview is one of nine across the country to win a colouring contest for their drawings illustrating kindness. [CTV]
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Ramen Isshin where you should try the Tsukemen broth.
To stay safe while hiking, follow the advice of these experienced hikers. [CBC]
Downtown staple C’est Japon A’ Suisha will close after five decades on July 1 when their lease runs out. [Reddit]
Dominion City and Knyota are putting on a how-to session for non-alcoholic cocktails. [Apt613]
Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.
Dog reunited with owner after weeks on the run
What happened: A black labrador who had escaped weeks ago was finally reunited with his owner. He’d been seen running through fields and into barns in West Carleton, but was too scared of anyone that approached. The dog had only recently been adopted and hadn’t bonded with his new owner, Ottawa By-law said.
By-law caught the dog by setting a live trap with treats on a farm property in the area. While he was initially quite scared of the officers, he soon warmed up to them when they fed him. After spending a night at the vet for a check up, he’s now back home, safe and sound.
🏒 Is it time for Sens head coach DJ Smith to be fired? Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley wrote he doesn’t have the leadership qualities to stick around. [Ottawa Citizen]
🤕 Josh Norris is expected to play tonight against Pittsburgh. The centre has been out with a shoulder injury since Oct. 22. [Ottawa Sun]
🥅 …The game is the start of a pivotal stretch for the Sens, one that could make or break their season. [Ottawa Sun]
💰 This week potential buyers who have been vetted by the league will finally get a look at the Senators’ books, as they prepare bids for the team. [Ottawa Sun]
Congrats to Adam and Raven, who both knew the answer to this week’s quiz, that Ottawa passed 500 COVID deaths April 28, 2021.
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