Brampton to lay off 2,000 part-time, temporary employees as pandemic continues to force closures; Peel confirms 55 new COVID-19 cases Friday
The City of Brampton has announced approximately 2,000 part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are being laid off as the municipality continues to deal with the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the City believes many of these individuals will qualify for financial support from programs launched by the federal government, details on how the city will support those who don’t qualify are not clear. Brampton’s decision comes nearly two weeks after the City of Mississauga announced it was temporarily laying-off 2,000 staff members as a result of the pandemic.
According to Brampton’s CAO David Barrick, the “difficult decision” was a result of the closure of all city facilities and the recent announcement the city was cancelling city-run events until July.
“The extended closure of City facilities meant a change in how we deliver programs and services. Our focus remains a sustainable response that lessens the long-term, negative impacts of this pandemic,” stated Mayor Patrick Brown in a press release.
The news out of Brampton comes as the region saw 55 new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed by Peel Public Health Friday morning, bringing the region's total to 1,274.
41 of these cases were confirmed in Mississauga and 13 in Brampton. The reporting of one new death is a dramatic drop from Thursday, when Peel recorded six additional deaths as a result of the virus. The total now sits at 32.
At the provincial level, the Ontario government has expanded the list of people who qualify for prioritized testing for COVID-19.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health told The Pointer the update is part of Ontario’s renewed testing strategy that was first implemented last week. The updated list now includes prioritized testing for people living in the same household as healthcare workers and first responders, as well as staff members working in congregate settings, such as prisons and homeless shelters.
“These new guidelines will help to ensure that the province takes full advantage of the considerable testing capacity that’s been created over the past few weeks. In doing so, we will be able to more effectively identify and contain cases among these vulnerable populations,” the Ministry said.
The April 10 announcement focused on doubling the testing done in Ontario. According to a press release on the matter, Ontario expected to process 8,000 tests a day by April 15. In a press conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said the province had reached 9,000 tests a day.
The City of Mississauga has also launched a webpage to help the city’s senior’s population, providing information on symptoms, prevention and a number of other resources.
“The City’s new web page provides easy to find, at-a-glance information for older adults and caregivers. This is something that our older adults asked for and I am pleased that we are able to provide this resource to help meet their needs, enhance their well-being and improve outcomes,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a press release.
In the Region of Peel, like much of Ontario and Canada, COVID-19 has been exceedingly fatal in older populations. Of the 32 deaths in the region, 27 residents were 65 or older, and eight of those who passed away were residents of long-term care facilities.
This age bracket is highly impacted due to a multitude of factors including weaker immune systems, making them vulnerable to developing serious symptoms, if they contract the virus. Residence in institutionalized settings, such as nursing homes, where the virus can easily spread, also plays a role.
In Brampton, new changes to transit schedules have been implemented to increase service during weekdays.
They include Route 8 Center, which will now provide access to Bramalea City Center, Peel Memorial Center and Brampton Gateway Terminal. Route 52 McMurchy will provide access to the Downtown Terminal and Brampton Gateway Terminal. Both of these routes will have buses running every 50 minutes. Route 9 Vodden, which provides access to Mount Pleasant GO, the Bramalea Terminal and other employment areas in the east end of the city, will have buses running every hour. Previously, the 52 McMurchy would only run on the weekends and the service on the other two routes was suspended April 13.
“The following routes will be back…to support access to health care facilities and employment areas in Brampton, and to improve access and connections to other Brampton Transit services. Best efforts will be made to sustain these services with the resources we have,” a press release on the matter states.
Brampton Transit announced route changes to make it easier to reach the city's healthcare facilities and employment areas.
Outside of their day jobs, transit workers are putting efforts toward helping their community. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1573 in Brampton organized a food drive to help collect needed goods for Knights Table, a food bank in Brampton. The drive, which began on March 31, has seen the union collect over 2,100 lbs of food. The ultimate goal is to collect 2,500 lbs by April 30.
Food bank usage in Brampton and Mississauga is expected to grow with the spread of COVID-19. For example, the Mississauga Food Bank reported a 10 percent increase in visits compared to this time last year. In a manner similar to Brampton, the Mississauga Fire Fighters Association Benevolent Fund, the charitable extension of the firefighter’s union, pledged $100,000 to help keep the food bank on its feet.
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