Guelph’s Emergency Operations Control group convened leaders from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Guelph General Hospital, Guelph Family Health Team and the City of Guelph, to ensure every possible resource could be deployed in response to the crisis.
While Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health leads our community’s response, the City provides critical support. Guelph paused and adjusted several municipal programs and services to free up facilities, logistics, transportation, human resources, information technology and communications resources to support residents, businesses and employees.
The City is using every communications channel at its disposal to provide clear, accurate information about COVID-19, provincial restrictions and regulations, public health guidelines, affected City programs and services, plans to get our community vaccinated, and plans for economic and social recovery.
Guelph’s Victoria Road Recreation Centre housed Guelph’s first COVID-19 assessment centre, and Guelph’s West End Community Centre housed one of Guelph’s three vaccinations clinics. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is planning to vaccinate at least 75% of the population before fall 2021. Then the City can resume fall winter recreation programs in the rink.
Not surprisingly, the Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service is on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. In addition to responding to 9-1-1 calls for urgent care, Guelph-Wellington Paramedic service members also volunteered to assist with COVID-19 testing and vaccination for people in long-term care homes, and those unable to travel to a clinic. The community paramedicine program already in place allowed members of the paramedic service to check in on more than 200 people at home with COVID-19. Paramedics provided care on-site, and helped people get additional treatment and support when needed.
Team members provided this support despite the increased risk they themselves could contract the virus or expose their teammates and families.
The Guelph Police Service and Bylaw team help educate the community about the latest regulations and public health guidelines. Guelph’s Bylaw team has become a COVID-19 hotline answering questions about what’s open, what’s closed, what’s allowed and what’s not. Police and Bylaw officers also monitor and enforce those regulations, issuing charges and fines for deliberate or repeated violations of public health guidelines.
Guelph’s Fire Department helped coordinate Guelph’s emergency preparedness and response; providing support and guidance to ensure that the City and Guelph’s Emergency Operations Control Group are prepared to respond to COVID-19 and other emergencies.
Thankfully, there have been very few cases of COVID-19 among our first responders; they’re still working hard to protect themselves, each other and our community.
In fact, there have been very few cases among employees working throughout the organization. The measures put in place to protect City employees working at home, in our facilities, trucks and buses show how we’ve adapted; we found safe, effective ways to deliver most of the City’s programs and services during COVID-19.
But not all of them.
Every employee in every department played a role in our community’s response to COVID-19, including those placed on emergency leave. Hundreds of dedicated, hard-working public servants were placed on temporarily leave which allowed the organization to reduce costs, refocus its resources and provide critical support to our community during this crisis.
When the Evergreen Senior and Community Centre and dining room closed, employees acted quickly to put its fully stocked pantry, freezer, and fridges to good use. The City partnered with the Guelph-Wellington Seniors Association to provide free frozen meals for people who would normally eat in the Evergreen Dining Room. Word spread quickly to local community support agencies and shelters. The City secured additional funding and the program grew to provide 1,000 meals a week to our community’s most vulnerable.
While workplace health and safety measures allowed the City to continue delivering water, wastewater, waste management services, public transit and other critical municipal services, and several highlights are included in this report, the City hasn’t fully resumed or restored all programs and services. We may not be able to deliver the same things the same way we did before COVID-19.
We are still responding to this crisis and there are still many challenges ahead; we know full economic and social recovery will take years.