Staff shortage due to COVID-19 affecting Winnipeg Transit, fire paramedic services, says mayor

Winnipeg’s mayor says the City of Winnipeg is facing staffing challenges due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, including in transit and the city’s fire paramedic services.

Mayor Brian Bowman and head of the Emergency Services Unit Jason Shaw made the announcement Thursday.

“We are not immune to the service effects with COVID-19,” Bowman said, adding that the city has been able to handle staffing challenges over the past few weeks so far.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg police chief declares state of emergency for force due to COVID-19' Winnipeg police chief declares state of emergency for force due to COVID-19

Winnipeg police chief declares state of emergency for force due to COVID-19

Shaw said there are currently 351 active cases of COVID-19 among city staff, including 76 in transit and 85 in fire paramedic services.

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“Winnipeg Transit is using spare operators,” Shaw said, adding that transit has had to cancel some buses on routes. People should check daily to see if their bus is running.

On Thursday, three buses did not run, Shaw said.

“It’s been sporadic, it changes day to day.”

Read more: Winnipeg police chief declares state of emergency for force due to COVID-19

Fire paramedic services are being redeployed, Shaw said, and so far the shortage has not impacted response times.

“Operational planning and decisions are being made in consultation with our medical director and Shared Health,” he said.

“It’s strained … (but) no critical service roles have failed.”

Leisure guide programming is still going forward at this point, Shaw said.

“We continue to get updates from provincial health officials. In terms of Winnipeg … we’ve had 50,018 (cases) of COVID,” Bowman said. “Sadly, we’ve lost 868 Winnipeggers to date.”

“I want to just begin by commending those who have gone and got their vaccine.”

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Manitoba to replace most PCR tests with rapid antigen tests at all testing sites as hospitalizations rise

“People who are not fully vaccinated are two times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, 14 times more likely to end up in hospital, 39 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, and 36 times more likely to die.

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“The evidence is crystal clear. Go get vaccinated.”

Bowman said he and his wife Tracy got their booster shot on Wednesday at the RBC Convention Centre supersite.

On Wednesday, the chief of police declared a state of emergency due to staff shortages for the same reason.

Read more: Dozens of Winnipeg first responders off work due to COVID-19, city says

Danny Smyth said 80 more officers are being deployed from other units to bolster ranks in general patrol starting on Monday.

The WPS has 90 active COVID-19 cases and 170 people have booked off time due to the illness, Smyth said. Of those, 136 are officers who are sick.

“We have some real challenges ahead. The current COVID-19 situation has significantly impacted our staffing resources. It has become necessary to execute parts of our Business Continuity Plan to ensure essential services – particularly in General Patrol,” Smyth said in a statement sent to media.

“Additional officers from other units will be redeployed from other areas of the Service to backfill on short notice.”

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