COVID-19 Employee Updates

We recognize that you may have questions regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and want to assure you that the health and safety of all employees is our top priority. The City is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and is in continuous communication with provincial medical health experts, in conjunction with our Emergency Program Manager and Health and Safety Department.

The City of Kamloops has a Pandemic Plan that is now active, and we take our guidance from Interior Health (IHA). Through the City’s Emergency Program Manager, Dan Sutherland, we have very close communications with IHA and Emergency Management BC (EMBC).

Our priorities are to follow all instructions provided by health authorities, to provide accurate information, and to take the appropriate precautions against the potential exposure to our employees.

This is an evolving crisis. While we may not have answers to all the questions you may have at this time, we will endeavour to provide employees important and timely information so that you can protect your health and the health of your families and loved ones.

We all have a part to play – Together we can take steps to help minimize the impact of the virus. The best defense is to regularly wash your hands, avoid touching your face, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and stay home if you are feeling unwell.

What you can do:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow; dispose of tissues appropriately
  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Practice social distancing (keep 2m distance from others)

What the City is doing:

  • Monitoring the situation closely with IH, EMBC, and other provincial health experts
  • ​Increasing cleaning protocols at City facilities
  • ​Placing updated signage on handwashing and health hygiene/prevention information at City staff and public facilities
  • ​Activating the City of Kamloops Pandemic Plan
  • Following the direction of the Medical Health Officer in the consideration of any future cancellation of public events or facility closures. (The City follows the authority of the MHO for these types of actions).
  • Bylaw Services: Bylaw Officers are assisting provincial health authorities to encourage compliance with the Provincial Health Officer’s orders to minimize community spread of COVID-19, however, health officers continue to take the lead in enforcing these orders. Bylaw Officers are providing education and information to businesses and residents who may be in contravention of the Public Health Orders, and providing reports of ongoing non-compliance to Interior Health.  

This is an evolving situation and we are working to get information to you as it becomes available. We will continue to monitor the spread and seriousness of this virus and will advise of any further actions needed.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated April 6, 2020. FAQs may be added or edited with each update.

General Questions
 

The City's State of Local Emergency has been lifted, while a State of Provincial Emergency remains in place. What do I need to know about this?

March 27: On March 20 at noon, the City of Kamloops put a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) into effect because, at that time, there was a lack of information, direction, and supports for the City of Kamloops to implement Dr. Henry's public health orders. The City believes that those concerns have been addressed with the announcements from the Minister Farnworth yesterday.

The City's SOLE was set to expire at noon today, March 27, as it was in place for only a seven-day period. The City also believes that various British Columbia local governments putting these SOLEs in place over the last week helped the Province understand the challenges that local governments were facing in exercising Dr. Henry's orders. Going forward, the City of Kamloops will continue working collaboratively with the Province.

Related to this, the City is still operating on minimal services, with a large part of our workforce now working from home. The Emergency Operations Centre continues to work with Managers and Council to identify some longer term planning on future staffing impacts of COVID-19 if the crisis lasts long term.

How will the City keep employees informed about developments?

The City will continually update its intranet (City Net) web page, as well as this externally accessible web page, with developing information as it pertains to employees. All City emails related to COVID-19 will come through the CAO’s office. Information can also be found on the Let’s Talk COVID-19 webpage.

What are the updates on working from home?

April 3: The City's Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), Shepell, has compiled some tips on working from home

April 1: Reports indicate staff is adjusting well to working remotely, and IT has been busy getting everyone setup. They are through the initial setup requests and now have capacity to handle those items that may have been postponed.  Just a reminder to all staff to forward your desk phones or ensure you’re checking your voicemails at least once per day. If you need assistance, please email helpdesk@kamloops.ca

Staff working from home are able to access the Employee Access Portal which provides CoK employees remote access to applications and fileshares (S drive, G drive, M drive) that are otherwise only accessible when logged in to the CoK internal network. Please email helpdesk@kamloops.ca to request an information sheet with instructions on accessing the portal. 

March 26: The Legislative Services team (including the Records section) is working from home until further notice. Do you need a contract or document signed by the Corporate Officer? Please email mmazotta@kamloops.ca to request the supporting document Contract Signing During COVID. 

March 24: 
IT will be doing regular updates on tips and tricks, solutions and other IT details on how to access your workspaces (phone, email) remotely. 

What about staffing levels. Will there be layoffs?

April 6: Please see the update in the following question regarding clarification of the use of banks, and for more information on Service Canada programs and the CERB program. 

April 1: For those who are concerned about layoffs, there are many many factors which are not in the City’s control that affect the organization’s ability to provide normal services across the spectrum to the community of Kamloops and which therefore affect decisions about staffing levels.  These factors include but aren’t limited to, future provincial public health orders, length of the issue, changes in overall staff wellness, upcoming council budgeting decisions, capital project activities, etc.

That said, the City’s leadership team understands people are concerned and they are doing everything they can to keep you informed. No new staffing decisions are expected to be made until after Easter, at the very earliest.

How do I code my timesheet during this time?

April 6: Clarification on the use of banks, Service Canada programs and the CERB program:

Clarification on Use of Banks
We would like to clarify what banks you can use if you have been laid off or are not able to work, including which banks must be used before you can apply for Employment Insurance Benefits or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

In this case of a temporary layoff, we have clarified with Service Canada that an employee is under no obligation to use all of their vacation or health (sick) bank before they apply for EI but they must use up their banked overtime from 2019 (as it is scheduled to be paid out in May each year).  Any overtime, vacation or health time that an employee chooses to use, will extend an employee’s layoff date. If an employee does not wish to use their vacation or sick time, they must notify payroll, by sending an email to payrollgroup@kamloops.ca.  They will be automatically issued a Record of Employment from payroll, once the overtime and any other chosen banks are depleted.

If an employee is at home sick or choosing to self-isolate, they must use up their health (sick) bank banked overtime and have the option to use their vacation before applying/qualifying for EI.

If an employee is quarantined or home sick due to COVID-19 they may use their sick time, banked overtime and vacation (in that order).  If they do not wish to use their sick time or vacation, they do not have to, before applying/qualifying for EI or the CERB.

If an employee is at home caring for children or others, and unable to work, they may use their family responsibility leave, sick time, banked overtime and vacation (in that order).  If they do not wish to use their sick time or vacation, they do not have to, before applying/qualifying for EI or the CERB. Further details on the CERB are outlined below.

Service Canada Programs
The government has announced several programs to compensate people for lost wages during this time.  This would apply to our staff who do not have any banked overtime, vacation or sick time OR have chosen not to use these banks.  It can be confusing to navigate which benefits you can apply for, in the event you are laid off, or unable to work due to child-care, or if you are sick.

We urge you to visit the following websites to determine which benefits apply to you:
https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
https://www.advisor.ca/news/economic/understanding-cerb-ei-and-the-feds-wage-subsidy/

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
This new benefit is aimed to help workers who have been affected by COVID-19. Please refer to the Government of Canada website for full details on this benefit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.  Examples of stopping to work could include but are not limited to:

  • You have been let go from your job or your hours have been reduced to zero;
  • You are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
  • You are away from work to take care of others because they are in quarantine, sick due to COVID-19; and/or
  • You are away from work to take care of children or other dependents whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

March 26: There are specific instructions from Payroll, and a supporting document developed called Payroll Processes COVID, as well as specific timesheets for use during this time. Please connect with your manager to ask for these documents. 

If you need information on eligibilty of medical employment insurance (EI), applications can be done online through Service Canada. You will need a Record of Employment (ROE) from the City, and Service Canada can start the application process while we are preparing that. Service Canada website has all of the information you will need to start the process online, or call their toll-free number at 1-833-381-2725 (it is likely there will be lengthy wait times).

Are there resources for additional emotional support regarding me or my family’s concerns during this time?

The City’s Employee and Family Assistance Provider (EFAP), Shepell, is available 24/7 for telephone, online or mobile support and counselling. Please contact them at 1-844-880-9142 or www.workhealthlife.com. On this site you can find for more information on dealing with anxiety, financial stress, coping with change and a wealth of additional support around health and wellbeing.

The following documents may also be helpful:
Tips for Coping with COVID-19
Shepell E-counselling
Shepell LIFT session: Coping with social distancing
Shepell Online Group Counselling

I have concerns about someone I work with who is ill in my work area. What should I do?

As we’re in the midst of cold, flu and allergy season, it is not unusual for people to appear sick during this time. Please follow the usual health precautions such as washing your hands often, practicing social distancing (2 metres or more away from others), and not sharing food/beverages with others.

If you are concerned about someone in the workplace who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, speak to your supervisor. Supervisors can contact the HR Office for further information.

This March 26 Safety Update also outlines new safety precautions and safe work procedures related to the COVID-19 event.

Cleaning protocol - will there be enough hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes?

As mentioned in previous emails, there is an enhanced cleaning protocol in all buildings. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were also distributed to many workspaces. However, as there is a limited supply of these two items, we are now asking staff to support us in our efforts to conserve these items and to please use them wisely. Even the City does not have an unlimited supply of these items, so staff must leave these items at work and not take them home.

If there is a sink in your area, we ask that you wash your hands with soap and water instead of using hand sanitizer. There are employees who do not have regular access to sinks and it is a priority to ensure these individuals have access to wipes and/or hand sanitizer in their work vehicles or at external work sites. We may be collecting some wipes or hand sanitizer from work areas that do have sinks, in order to redistribute to employees that need them.

As an alternative, spray bottles of surface disinfectant have been distributed, and these can be used to wipe indoor surfaces with paper towel.

This March 26 Safety Update also outlines new safety precautions and safe work procedures related to the COVID-19 event.

What if my child’s daycare has closed due to COVID-19?

Employees may use Family Responsibility time to stay home with children if daycares close due to COVID-19. Employees may also use sick time, banked time or vacation.

What do I do if I’m sick with non-COVID-19 related symptoms?

Stay home if you are sick, and contact your Supervisor. You should stay home until you no longer have symptoms. The BC Government has developed a self-assessment tool to assist you in determining the nature of your illness and how long you should stay home for if your symptoms are COVID-19 related.

What do I do if I’m sick with Covid-19 related symptoms and haven’t travelled recently?
  • Call 8-1-1 to be assessed, or complete a self-diagnosis tool
  • If the symptoms are severe such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department
  • Ensure that you self-isolate immediately and avoid contact with others. This means staying away from others as much as possible. Consult a health care provider.

Symptoms of COVID-19

If I am a seasonal or part-time employee without sick time and become ill with COVID-19, are there measures in place to support me financially?

Medical Employment Insurance (EI) has been made available with no waiting period by the Federal Government. To access Medical EI, applications can be done online through Service Canada. You will need a ROE from the City and Service Canada can start the application process while the City prepares the ROE.

Will public engagement events be cancelled?

All City public engagement events will be cancelled until April 30, 2020.

Will City Council meetings and Committee meetings that the public can attend be cancelled?

April 1: Kamloops City Council will resume regular Council meetings on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 1:30 pm. The Council meeting schedule will be posted on Kamloops.ca. The meetings will continue to be streamed online; however, the following changes will be implemented to ensure the health and safety of Council and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • The public and media are not able to attend in person or call in at this time.
  • The Mayor and a maximum of four Councillors will be present in Council Chambers, practising physical distancing. The remaining Councillors will join the meeting via electronic means.
  • Staff will only be present as required and will practise physical distancing in the gallery.
Should we all (inside and outside workers) be social distancing?

As you know, we have been following the Provincial Medical Health Officer’s recommendation to apply social distancing protocol at work.  Even if you do not work in an office, you can limit contact with your co-workers by ensuring the 2 meter distance outside.  Crew talks may be staggered into smaller groups of workers.

March 26: Enforcing social distancing: It is EVERYONE’s responsibility to practice and enforce social distancing. Bylaw officers are patrolling regularly and sharing the importance of social distancing and the City will close down public spaces or facilities if necessary.

Are the employee gyms open?

Employee gyms are now closed until further notice. 

I use transit. Are there service changes or trip cancellations I need to be aware of?

April 1: The Kamloop Transit Network is shifting to summer service hours on April 5. Details are available at BCtransit.com. Also, rear-door entry has been implemented and no fares are being collected at this time. 

Regarding trip cancellations, we are sharing/posting BC Transit’s announcements on any daily trip cancellations in the Kamloops Transit Network on our social media channels. You can also subscribe to receive emails on route-specific customer advisories for the Kamloops Transit Network here.

Are public (City) spaces closed?

The closure of all City play structures is effective March 23 and signage is also being installed at all City parks, skate parks, and courts today indicating the importance of social distancing. 

March 26: Bylaw officers are patrolling regularly and sharing the importance of social distancing and the City will close down public spaces or facilities if necessary.

Are landfills closed?

Effective March 24, the Barnhartvale landfill will be closed, with the exception of diversion and yard waste. Please take waste to Mission Flats Landfill where customers can charge to their account or use credit/bank cards. All landfills with the exception of Barnhartvale are operating as usual.

What is happening with capital projects?

April 1: Capital projects that were already underway are continuing, such as Westsyde Pool and West Victoria Street. In addition, some other essential projects will move forward: two groundwater wells in Aberdeen, the landfill berm at Mission Flats and the standby power for the water system. All other capital projects are on hold until the EOC receives direction from Council.

Travel-Related Questions

Can I attend work-related meetings outside of Kamloops right now?

As of March 15, 2020, all City-sponsored travel outside of Kamloops must be cancelled.

I am planning a vacation or have an upcoming vacation booked. What should I do?

The Provincial Health Officer has recommended cancelling all non-essential travel outside of Canada. If you have a trip outside of Canada planned within the next six weeks, please inform your manager immediately. If you are deemed critical staff, we will ask you to suspend your holiday and it may be possible to work with your manager if this results in lost expenses.

If you do decide to travel anyway, please be aware of the latest Government of Canada Travel Health notices, be aware of the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days, and also of the limitations of your travel insurance policies.

Per an email from Senior HR Advisor on March 13, here is a March 11 bulletin provided by Desjardins, our benefit provider, with respect to travel and travel insurance coverage. (note that the short-term disability insurance sections do not apply as the City does not have short-term disability insurance through Desjardins).

I have City-related travel outside of Canada planned. What should I do?

All City-sponsored travel outside the country is suspended until at least April 30. For trips after April 30, we will advise as we continue to monitor the situation.