Marking 1 year of the City of Winnipeg’s COVID-19 response
Our Emergency Operations Centre has remained activated since March 5, 2020
March 5, 2021
Adapting how we operate as a City, while ensuring the safety of our employees and residents, has been guiding the work of our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) during the pandemic.
It was one year ago, on March 5, 2020, our Office of Emergency Management activated the EOC in response to COVID-19. It has remained in operation ever since, making it the longest activation in the City’s history.
“Early on, we set priorities and goals for responding to this crisis,” said Jason Shaw, Assistant Chief, Emergency Management.
During an activation, the EOC brings together every City department to respond to an emergency, such as floods, significant fires, or a pandemic. That takes a lot of coordination. In addition to countless phone calls, the EOC has sent more than 25,000 emails since March 5, 2020.
An added challenge for the EOC during COVID-19 was having to transition from operating in-person to remotely. In all, more than 1,800 of our employees have been working remotely. Our Innovation, Transformation, and Technology Department worked quickly to have all of the necessary tools to support our workforce. This has allowed for over 90,000 meetings to be held virtually so far.
We’ve also been able to schedule more than 3,825 residential inspections virtually, which helps in reducing face-to-face interactions.
“Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a team effort,” said Lisa Gilmour, Emergency Management Coordinator.
Our workplaces range from Transit buses, and a water treatment plant, to libraries and front counter service centres. With changing Public Health Orders, and evolving guidelines around cleaning and personal protective equipment, each workplace has undergone several safety assessments and multiple procedures had to be rewritten with COVID-19 risks in mind.
Keeping up with mask recommendations has been a significant part of all the safety assessments. So far, more than 240,000 disposable masks made available to the public.
Early on, our Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service transitioned to wearing MSA Advantage 200 SL respirator masks, most commonly used at fire scenes or hazardous material incidents, instead of using N95 respirator masks. It is estimated that move freed up more than 300,000 N95 masks at a time of scarcity in PPE.
“All the changes City departments made required a lot of work,” said Shaw.
Our library branches have also adapted, transitioning to offering a contactless holds pick up service to continue to meet the need in the community to access a variety of materials at a time when people are spending more time at home. In December and January alone, more than 123,000 items were picked up curbside.
Several library employees were also part of the successful Community Services Ambassador program in spring 2020, when the ambassadors spent more than 12,000 hours our parks and open spaces to educate visitors about following physical distancing and group size limits.
Around the same time as the Community Services Ambassador program, we launched the temporary patio registration program. We issued 69 temporary permits under the program during the summer and winter combined.
As the pandemic and our response to it evolve, we are committed to keeping residents updated. We’ve provided more than 50 news conferences livestreamed to social media. Our 311 Contact Centre employees have also fielded more 17,000 COVID-19 related inquiries since March 2020. If you have any questions about any of our services and how they may be impacted, you can contact 311.
By the Numbers: COVID-19 Response
temporary patio permits issued
COVID-19 311 inquiries received
(since March 2020)
library materials picked up curbside
(in December and January)
emails sent by our EOC
Since our Emergency Operation Centre was activated on March 5
employees working remotely and over 90,000 virtual meetings
(since March 2020)
COVID-19 update news conferences
(since March 2020)
virtual residential inspections scheduled