Hi everyone, Steve K here.
I want to take this opportunity to send a message to every person that works for the City of Ottawa.
I think it's an important time now to stop and pause and talk to you about the way forward and what we're thinking of.
What we're focusing on the last couple weeks has been an experience that I've never had in my entire 36 year career.
I know for all of us it seems like things are happening at such a rapid pace.
Two weeks ago we had to move very quickly to take care of the number one priority that I've always talked about, and that's our people.
Our team came together with the general managers and the extended leadership teams and moved very quickly to try and get you the help and the protection and your safety as quickly as possible.
A lot of decisions were made rapidly, and I bet you had felt that information was coming out faster than you could absorb it.
I'm so proud of everybody has adjusted to all the changes we've implemented in the last two weeks, but I think it was critical that we move quickly to protect our people because the services that our people deliver are the only way that everyone else in our community can stay home and function and stay socially isolated from each other and to make sure that they can continue doing what they need to do.
We have to come to work it's such a critical, critical Public Service role that we have here at the City of Ottawa and I'm so proud of everybody how quickly they've been able to maintain our services and we haven't missed a beat.
I know it's hard on people.
I've seen more basement photos of offices and cats and pets and children and all kinds of weird photos people are sending me about their working conditions from their at home.
Some of them are quite funny actually and I'm getting quite a kick out of it, but it just tells me how resilient and adaptable people are in terms of making the best of the situation and it can't be easy being home and being out of your routines and dealing with things that you never thought you'd had to deal with it's a very, very different situation for us.
All I can ask is that you continue to think about others, think about the common good, think about our community, think about the things that really matter to everyone else and how much they depend on us to do our jobs so that they can stay home.
And it's important that they stay home so that we can do our jobs, and I think that's another important message for our community.
Our focus over the last several days has really been about several things.
First is our people.
We want to make sure that we can continue to deliver services as the months go by on this event.
I don't think it'll be over in the next couple of weeks, this is going to be months before we get to a point where we're transitioning out of this, and we have to be ready for the long term.
We have to be ready to have a workforce that's ready to be able to continue delivering services we need to protect our workforce so we always have reserves ready to go to come in and help wherever they can, into the future, as we need to continue to deliver our services and our people have to make—we have to
make sure that our people are mentally well in terms of their mental health.
That we're supporting them and that people feel that they are supported every day when they're doing their jobs.
The second priority for us is our community, and there are a lot of vulnerable people in our community, they need our help.
And we have a human services task team that's led by the Community and Social Services Department.
The staff there are just doing an amazing job helping people who need our help the most at this time, and things are changing so rapidly for them, too.
I think it's just fantastic what they're doing and they're helping people that need help the most.
And our focus is going to continue to be helping our community partners: the agencies, the nonprofits working with the province, working with the feds, making sure that we have all the tools that we
can leverage put out into the community to help those people the most.
The third thing that we're focusing on are our services.
We have to really think about how are we going to maintain services, as what I expect is absenteeism will increase in our own workforce as people start to get sick and people are with other people that are so sick and have to socially isolate because of that.
We have to figure out very quickly how are we going to maintain the critical services, so that we can keep going and this city keeps running and we can come out of this in a strong position into the future.
So those are the three areas We’re focusing on there's a lot of work that's happening this week to get ready for that.
April 5, that was the date that was initially set by the province in terms of when schools would be closed.
I think we're going to blow right past that.
We're moving into a period now where we are into this for months as I said.
And we have to make sure that as an organization, we're thinking ahead best we can to try and predict something that is very hard to predict but try to predict where are we going and how do we keep ourselves going during this period.
It can’t happen without you.
You are our number one priority you're the part of the first part of your discussion every day when the senior leadership team gets together with the general managers, every one of them are working hard and are paying attention to what your needs are and I know there's lots of issues out there.
I know we're not perfect.
I'm not expecting they're going to be perfect—we have 17,000 employees.
There's so many different situations and circumstances, but there's one key word I keep telling their general managers, and that's flexibility.
We need to be flexible with our staff, we need to give them every opportunity to be able to do the services that deliver the services the way they can and give them total flexibility to deliver it that accommodates their circumstances.
That is a very important principle for us because I firmly believe, as you know, that we take care of our people, our services will be taken care of and therefore our community will be taken care of.
I appreciate the support of Mayor Watson and our Council.
They've been amazing and they provide us with incredible support as we go through this, and it's a
wonderful thing to be able to work in unison with our Council and the administration to deliver these services.
I also want to shout out to our community partners who have reached out and are so supportive and are doing so many wonderful things under very stressful conditions to be able to maintain their services to the community.
And lastly, and I know there's so many people doing incredible work and everybody is calling out people who are doing great work, but I want to pay special attention to our IT services department who have gone to incredible lengths to make sure that our people can work from home.
That our people can continue to deliver services.
And that's taken an incredible amount of work to get the tools in place, laptops rolled out, to hundreds and hundreds of our employees so that people do have the flexibility to be mobile and work from home.
I also want to thank our emergency management team, who have supported the entire City for so many times over the last three-four years.
They step up every time and rise to the challenge and provide the logistics to support the knowledge to help us get through the most difficult situations.
I also want to thank Ottawa Public Health, under the leadership of Dr. Vera Etches.
Her entire team has been amazing.
From the beginning, her staff and her people are working so hard to benefit the community.
They're going around the clock.
I can't say enough good things about them.
We're getting incredible advice from them, subject matter expertise that helps us and guides us as we make every decision at the Emergency Operations Control Group table and Dr. Etches has been incredible with her communication and Leadership.
We're very fortunate to have someone like her in the lead here in our community.
Please take care of yourselves.
We are not at the end, we are just at the beginning, and remember that we have a long way to go.
But I want to give you a comfort that we're doing everything we can to put you at the forefront of our minds in terms of how we go forward.
Please take care of yourselves, take care of your families.
Social distancing is very important right now.
Please take care of yourselves, look after your families, and I hope you stay in a good place as you
move forward and you feel good that you're playing a critical role in maintaining our community spirit and
supporting people who need support right now more than others and in delivering the services that our entire community depends on to be able to function and to be able to stay well.
So thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you from all the general managers who are so appreciative of the work we do and
thank you to all of our partners in the community for the support that you've been given the
city, and working so well with us.
Thank you very much