Peel Region's plan for recovery from COVID-19
Recovery means continuing to build a Community for Life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted our community, our families, and our businesses. We've developed a Demobilization and Recovery Plan and we're committed to supporting community recovery from COVID-19. This plan will follow a phased approach that is guided by Public Health and Ontario's Framework for reopening the province. Together, we will continue to build our vision of a Community for Life.
Recovery means continuing to build a Community for Life
In 2020, Peel faced perhaps the biggest challenge in its history – the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Region continues to respond to the ongoing needs of the community during this crisis, from our work in Public Health, to frontline lifesaving efforts by paramedics, to adapting services for vulnerable citizens through the Community Response Table (formed in partnership with community agencies to support Peel's most vulnerable residents during the crisis). The list of response measures, services adaptations and changes to the way we do business is extensive.
While the response continues, we must also look to the days and months ahead and prepare for the future. What has not changed and has even strengthened is the Region's vision of building a Community for Life.
Community for Life came from citizen feedback and reflects their priorities and hopes for life in Peel. Our 2015-2035 Strategic Plan outlines the work we are focused on to bring this vision to life.
Community for Life is a place where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging and has access to the services and opportunities they need to thrive throughout each stage of their lives. We didn't expect that responding to a pandemic of this magnitude would be a part of our work, but our team together with the community has risen to the challenge.
Now, with the leadership and support of Regional Council, employees have begun the intricate work of looking to the future and planning for recovery from the pandemic. This Recovery and Demobilization Plan describes the approach and steps that Peel will take to continue building a Community for Life. The work has been undertaken in consultation with, and aligned to, Peel Public Health guidance and provincial recovery framework.
Recovery efforts will take time, will be thoughtful, and will ensure our employees and residents are kept safe. We are transforming our service delivery and remain confident that we will stay true to our vision to create a healthy, safe and connected community.
Interim Chief Administrative Officer
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of millions of people around the world. It has impacted the delivery of services and products by governments and businesses. The Region of Peel, just like the Canadian and Ontario governments, the Cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon, began to monitor and prepare for the impact of COVID-19 in Peel.
To protect the community, Regional Council:
- declared a state of emergency – declared by the Regional Chair
- promoted critical public health measures
- approved financial relief efforts
- prioritized essential services
- implemented actions to protect the community's most vulnerable populations.
All levels of government, health care partners and various community organizations collaborated on these efforts.
Response measures and actions
Declarations by Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, and the Ontario government guided the Region's emergency response.
Our response included:
- The closure of many Regional facilities.
- Active screening at Regional facilities.
- Moving 80% of the workforce to work remotely.
- Redeployment of over 300 Regional employees to support pandemic response.
- Putting health and safety measures in place to protect employees and contractors.
- Installation of portable shower units to support homeless population.
- An Isolation and Recovery Program to support frontline workers.
- Offering emergency childcare to support frontline workers.
- A Public Health Call Centre to support the Customer Contact Centre with increased health-related calls.
- Proactive coordination of response with community partners, Ontario and local municipalities.
We also established the COVID-19 Community Response Table to:
- help local agencies support vulnerable and at-risk populations in identifying and responding to emerging needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- support coordination, information sharing, problem solving, and collaboration among Peel Region's not-for-profit and community sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on Regional service delivery
We assessed our services at the beginning of the pandemic to identify what changes would need to happen to ensure the health and safety of employees and residents.
Most Regional services have continued without interruptions.
We needed to pause, modify and reduce some services in support of public health measures to keep community members safe.
Refer to affected services and facilities for more information.
We also partnered with Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga to support taxpayers through deferred property tax installment dates as well as:
- Deferring the water and wastewater rate increase scheduled for April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2020.
- Waving CRC fees.
- Introducing a 91-day grace period for water bills due from April 1 to June 30. During this time, no late payment charges were applied.
- Waiving fares for TransHelp passengers.
Recovery planning will enable us to take steps to fully resume our goal of building a Community for Life. This plan details how we will approach:
- Safe resumption of services that we paused, modified or reduced.
- Reopening of Regional facilities to employees and the public.
- Scaling down of emergency measures.
- Adopting new and innovative ways of service delivery and operations.
- Building resiliency for future emergency events.
- Supporting Regional workforce safety and well-being.
Ontario has not experienced COVID-19 equally across the entire province. Peel has had a higher number of COVID-19 cases due to our greater population density, high number of institutional settings and high volume of essential businesses. Our recovery path will reflect Peel's experience and service impacts from COVID-19 and, may look differently from recovery activities of other areas of Ontario.
The Recovery Framework is guided by the Province's Framework for Reopening Our Province. It follows the advice of the Region's Medical Officer of Health to ensure the approach to recovery does not overwhelm health resources and put community health and safety at risk.
The recovery framework is anchored in 3 key pillars:
Delivering valued services and community supports
Resumption of modified Regional services and the appropriate return from remote operations.
- Gradually restarting of services
- Scaled return from remote operations
- Continuing key community supports
- Adjusting infrastructure investments
- Managing financial and economic impacts
Creating safe environments and healthy workers
Ensuring all workspaces and staff are ready to enable return and are safeguarded from risk.
- Public Health guidelines
- Health, safety and wellness
- Workplace safeguards and equipment
- Workforce measures and supports
- Digital enablement
Redesigning for the new normal of regional operations
Rethinking how Regional services and operations are performed and how we work in the future.
- Remote work capabilities
- Space needs and efficiencies
- Optimizing the workforce
- Service level refinements
- Emergency future proof
- Health and well-being
We have adopted a phased approach to recovery that aligns witfh Ontario's framework.
Getting ready for a gradual and safe restart and reopening of services, operations and workspaces.
Scaled return of services and workspaces focusing on safety and assessing impacts of early returns.
Expanding the return of services and workspaces that includes new ways of working and doing business.
Services, workspaces and workforce practices are fully functional and reflect a new reality of working.
Each phase of recovery will be carefully monitored to assess the status of the pandemic in Peel and determine if:
- Recovery activities can continue and move into the next phase.
- It's necessary to reinstate public health measures and pause or adjust recovery activities.
This plan is adaptable to respond to multiple waves of the virus and the need to quickly reinstate restrictions.
Our recovery efforts and timing will align with those of local municipalities and community partners.
A limited number of Regional services that paused or modified will resume. Examples include:
- TransHelp will resume client assessment and administrative processes.
- Housing will resume activities related to the Housing and Homelessness Plan, client placement processes, asset management, landlord and tenant mediation processes.
- Water will resume activities related to meter readings and revenue collection as well as contract administration processes.
- Waste will resume activities related to program planning, specific curb-side collection practices (e.g., bulky items), infrastructure development and asset management and state-of-good-repair projects.
Full list of service activities planned to resume this phase.
In the short-term phase, nearly 55 Regional employees redeployed to support essential services and COVID-19 related programs will be recalled to their regular positions.
- Regional buildings will prepare to reopen to the public. They will be limited to no more than 40% of normal occupancy levels. This will satisfy public health advice to maintain physical distancing.
- Regional buildings will use point-of-entry screening practices, signage and floor markings to manage traffic, clear barriers at service counters.
- Regional staff will continue to work remotely, where possible, to practice physical distancing. This will reduce non-essential occupancy within buildings.
- To prepare to resume in-person proceedings, Regional Council Chambers will have clear barriers installed between Council seating, staff and media seating. There will be occupancy limits to the Council lounge and the public gallery.
Health and safety
We will support both the physical and mental well-being of employees, particularly those in frontline positions through educational resources. The Employee and Family Assistance Plan nurtures mental well-being during the pandemic.
Employees who return to Regional facilities will be supported to safely transition back to worksites. They will be provided with health and safety educational resources on:
- health screening
- practicing frequent hand hygiene
- appropriate use of both non-medical masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- cleaning and disinfection processes
- understanding new signage
- practicing physical distancing in various workplace and community settings.
Digital practices and features introduced through the COVID-19 response will continue to be available and include:
- Live chat capabilities.
- Translation resources.
- An interactive map of COVID-19 cases.
- Emergency communications tool for Public Health to update staff during an emergency. This Public Health communications tool uses active Public Health employee contact information for time-sensitive notification purposes related to the COVID-19 emergency.
- Case and Contact Management Call Centre implementation of Five9's technology for Public Health which enabled employees to transition to remote work.
- Enhancements to the Mass Communication Tool ("MCT" Callout Tool) to send automated information via email messages and voice calls with pre-recorded information to family members and loved ones of residents in all five Regional Long Term Care homes.
- Virtual parade meetings for Paramedic Services prior to shift deployment. The implementation of the technology allows Paramedics to take part in a virtual parade meeting, prior to deployment, thereby removing of in-person meetings.
- Transitioning over 200 Human Services caseworkers to remote service delivery within 5 days, which provided community members the ability to apply and speak with their caseworkers without having to visit the Regional offices.
- Introducing virtual exhibitions at Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) including: Morphology, Simon Hughes: 2001-2020, and Home: Expressions in Abstraction. PAMA@Home also offers daily and weekly activities for families to encourage hands-on home arts education.
Employees working remotely will continue having safe and secure access to Regional applications, networks, information and virtual meeting tools to perform their work. This will help them collaborate as if they are in their regular workplace.
We'll share the recovery plan to the community, employees and Regional Council through a variety of channels:
- our COVID-19 website
- social media campaign
- news releases
- mobile signs
- Connect to Peel digital newsletter
- internal channels such as Peel Employee Portal, emails and town halls
The Community Response Table (CRT) emerged during the early days of the pandemic to support vulnerable and at-risk populations in identifying and responding to emerging needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CRT is made up of over 90 community partners, agencies and not-for-profits. They share crucial information and identify and address problems facing both community agencies and residents in real time during the pandemic.
The CRT has created an opportunity for cross boundary partnerships through formalizing links and communication between community partners, the municipalities, Regional Human Services and Health Services, and other groups. This collaboration helped address complex issues such as mental health, healthy equity, access to services, and poverty. The system level benefits and opportunities that have emerged as part of the CRT will continue to offer support through the recovery phase to ensure that services are available to the community.
Early July to September 2020
The transition to the mid and long-term recovery phases of our will be based on:
- Guidance from Peel Public Health.
- Ontario's reopening stages.
- Key economic indicators and impacts.
- Coordination with municipal partners.
- Community needs.
Regional services greatly impacted by COVID-19, such as Peel Public Health and Long Term Care, may continue to operate in a response mode while other services progress with recovery efforts.
Establishing a new normal
During the mid and long-term recovery phases, emphasis will also shift toward establishing a "new normal" of Regional services and operations. Examples include:
- Enabling new work practices where some of our employees continue to work remotely.
- Re-examining the future of Regional building use, limitations to occupancy levels and its long-term impact on overall workspace design and needs.
- Using advancements in health screening technology to help keep COVID-19 out of public and workplaces.
- Implementing more convenient service delivery, including re-examining traditional service hours, conducting appointments by phone and expanding safe and easy online payment options.
- Re-designing business processes, particularly those that are paper-based, to enable them to be performed digitally.
The working timelines for the mid and long-term recovery efforts will be guided by:
- Results of the short-term phase.
- Continued slowing of the spread of the virus.
- Ontario's lifting emergency orders and restrictions.
- Direction from Peel Public Health.