Most CRD staff still at work in midst of COVID-19 crisis
CRD board chair Colin Plant speaks to media on March 20, 2020. (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The Capital Regional District building on Fisgard Street in Victoria is closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, but for the staff inside who are worried about the spread of the virus, it's business as usual.
CTV News has learned that employees are concerned that CRD management is still requiring staff to go in to work. Social media posts from workers say the CRD is taking a "roll call" to ensure all staff are coming to work.
The CRD board chair told CTV News that management is simply making sure people working in CRD facilities are safe.
"We don’t know who is in the building and who is not in the building unless we do those checks," said board chair Colin Plant. "Calling it a roll call makes it sound as if we're somehow not trusting our employees. I think it is reasonable under these unusual circumstances to have management check who is at work."
Plant said 30 per cent of CRD staff are not coming in and are staying at home to look after their families.
The CRD is actively working on a remote work policy and procedure as part of business continuity planning. Plant points out that because the regional district provides essential services to residents, some staff will be needed to work on site during the pandemic.
"We provide essential services that our region depends on, and that’s maybe why people have looked at the CRD a little differently in how we have been responding to the situation," said Plant. "The CRD provides services that can't be stopped."
Sites that provide fresh drinking water, waste-water treatment and the Hartland landfill must remain operational for the health of the people in the region, Plant said. He said the workers who are coming in to work are within the guidelines provided by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
"We have made sure that our environment is cleaned more often than usual and that employees do have the ability to stay home if they don't want to come to work," said Plant. "Nobody at the CRD has been forced to come to work, that's probably the most important thing to tell people. We, like every other organization, are trying to respond as quickly as we can to the emerging situation."
The regional district's policy for staff members who are sick is to stay home. If employees are recommended to stay home, they are told to speak with their supervisor or manager regarding leave approval. Plant said vacation time may also be used for staff who wish to remain home.
"For any staff member who feels they are being disrespected, I would assure that staff member that they are our greatest focus and making sure they are safe at work is what we are doing," said Plant. "Our first priority is to keep the men and women who work for the CRD safe and then to continue to provide the essential services that our region depends on."
Plant said that by the end of Friday the CRD will have a plan for employees to work from home.