Staff Report #7
November 25, 2020
To All Commissioners
Re: COVID-19 Pandemic Response Update
That the report be NOTED and FILED.
As set out in Staff Report #1 – Pandemic Response Plan, dated May 27, 2020, in light of the pandemic declaration in March of 2020, followed by an extended period of responding to issues as they arose, a Pandemic Response Plan was developed in an effort to navigate the organization through not only the pandemic period, but also the period following. The Plan will be an iterative document, intended to guide the organization through the crisis and back to the place it was prior to the pandemic. The Plan breaks down the path to recovery into three primary phases:
- Resolve – assess issues as they arise in an effort to maintain services;
- Resiliency – reassess decisions made in the Resolve phase and implement practices and policies that will ensure resiliency going forward as the pandemic situation continues to evolve; and
- Rebuild – establish a transit system that has responded to the challenges created by the pandemic and its lasting effects including shifts in ridership patterns, levels and expectations; public health expectations relating to the safety of employees and riders; availability of funding from all levels of government; and community priorities.
Currently, the organization is considered to be in the Resiliency phase of the Plan, reviewing past decisions and practices for effectiveness and applicability for implementation during this second wave. The remainder of this report provides details with respect to the COVID-19 related actions taken since the last update report provided in September (see Staff Report #2, dated September 30, 2020).
Section 22 Class Order – Mandatory Masks on Public Transit and Vehicles for Hire
Per the Section 22 Class Order issued by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), masks/face coverings became mandatory on Monday July 20, 2020. The following initiatives are in place in an effort to communicate this requirement:
- on-board signage indicating that masks are mandatory when riding transit;
- external announcements playing a recorded message reminding people that masks are mandatory on transit;
- internal signage with respect to requirements of Operators to wear masks while operating transit vehicles at all times when they are not operating the bus behind a fully-closed Operator barrier;
- LTC social media has been utilized to remind riders of this requirement, this will continue going forward; and
- the LTC website includes this information, noting a direct link to the MLHU website is provided for specific details regarding the Order and related exemptions noting it was confirmed with the MLHU that enforcement of this order rests with the Health Unit, and as such, LTC Operators would not be refusing riders without a mask, nor would they be asking riders why they are not wearing a mask.
On November 19, 2020, the MLHU announced that this Section 22 Class Order was being revoked given the requirements included in the Order were now covered by Provincial legislation Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“Reopening Ontario Act”).
Given the expectations with respect to mask use on-board transit remain consistent, there is no planned communication change associated with this announcement.
COVID-19 Safety Plans
On November 19, 2020, the Province of Ontario launched a series of education and enforcement campaigns to ensure businesses across the province are taking the necessary steps to keep employees, consumers and the public safe. These campaigns will support the current efforts of police, municipal by-law officers, and public health inspectors to educate businesses and enforce the COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Officers will be asking employers to produce their workplace safety plans. The initial focus of the campaigns will be in strategic locations experiencing high rates of infection, drawing on a team of more than 200 provincial offences officers from across ministries. Certain businesses and establishments in the Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown levels are required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and make it available in writing for review. Businesses requiring a workplace safety plan include:
- Restaurants, bars, and food or drink establishments;
- Sports and recreational facilities;
- Meeting and event spaces;
- Personal care services;
- Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments;
- Cinemas; and
- Performing arts facilities.
While London Transit does not currently fall within the requirements as set out above, a COVID-19 Safety Plan, based on the template provided by the Province has been completed in an effort to ensure that all appropriate measures are being followed. The COVID-19 Safety Plan is set out in Enclosure I for Commissioners only. This plan will be updated as policies and protocols change going forward, and will be available should Provincial requirements change such that this becomes a mandated requirement for London Transit.
Mandatory Mask Use in LTC Facilities
Consistent with the requirements set out in the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“Reopening Ontario Act”), masks are required to be worn all at times in LTC facilities with the exception being when an employee is working alone at their workstation. Signage at entry points to all facilities has been updated to reflect this requirement. London Transit continues to offer masks to employees as required.
Consistent with the requirements set out in the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“Reopening Ontario Act”), LTC employees are required to complete a pre-screening assessment each day prior to attending the workplace. The screening is completed online to allow employees to complete same at home prior to leaving for work. The questions on the assessment are set out below.
- Are you experiencing any of the following?
- Sever difficulty breathing
- Having a very hard time waking up
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe chest pain
- Feeling confused
- Do you currently have a fever (greater than or equal to 38 degrees C) or have you had a fever in the last 24 hours or less?
- Are you currently experiencing or have you been experiencing the following symptoms in the last 10 days?
- Fever (greater than 38 degrees C) or chills
- New or worsening cough (continuous more than usual; not related to a known cause or condition such as COPD)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (out of breath or unable to breathe deeply; not related to known cause or condition such as asthma)
- Barking cough, making whistling noise when breathing [croup](not related to a known cause or condition)
- Headache (unusual or long lasting; not related to a known cause or condition such as a recent injury or fibromyalgia)
- Sore throat or painful swallowing (not related to a known cause or condition such as acid reflux)
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions such as being outside in cold weather)
- Loss of sense of smell or taste (not related to known cause or condition such as a neurological disorder)
- Fatigue (lack of energy or extreme tiredness that is unusual; not related to a known cause or condition such as depression or thyroid dysfunction)
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain (not related to a known cause or condition such as Crohn’s or IBS)
- Conjunctivitis [pink eye] (not related to a known cause or condition such as recurring styes)
- Within the last 14 days, did you provide care or have close physical contact with a person who currently has COVID-19?
- Have you travelled to any countries outside Canada (including the United States) within the last 14 days?
Employees who answer “Yes” to any of the above questions are directed to TeleHealth for further direction, and cannot attend the workplace until confirmation has been provided that they are clear for work.
I – COVID-19 Safety Plan (for Commissioners only)
Mike Gregor, Director of Finance
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager