From the Mayor's Desk:
Working Differently, But Still Working
Doug Lawrance - Sioux Lookout Mayor
During this unusual pandemic period there are businesses that have unfortunately had to shut down. At the same time many businesses and agencies are still working, but working differently.
Businesses that are still open that normally deal with the public directly, have adapted by implementing various measures: delivery service, contactless pick-up, enhanced cleaning, ‘sneeze’ barriers, service hours for vulnerable people, limitation on numbers of customers, and other innovations.
Many employers have been forced to reduce staff numbers. For some this is necessary to comply with social distancing requirements. For others it is due to reduced volumes. The Municipal Economic Development Office recently conducted an on-line survey of businesses and found those still working had experienced reduced revenues ranging from 20% to 90%. A small number had experienced increased revenues. As well as public compliance with current directions, there is a measure of rational fear keeping people at home. This also applies to employees of still functioning businesses, as some businesses are reporting staff shortages and absences. Employees with the opportunity to remain at work will have worry of contact with the virus, but some may also have child care or other reasons to stay home.
It was also noted in the survey of businesses, that while there is a decrease in demand for some products and services, that there is an increase in demand for others. This added demand along with other factors related to the coronavirus, has resulted in disruptions in service and supply chains. But for the most part necessary products and services continue to flow, perhaps differently than before COVID-19. Challenges can often open the way for opportunities, for changes.
The Municipality is also working differently, but still working. Through Provincial direction, many municipal services are closed, especially those that deal directly with the public. Essential services continue: water, sewer, roads, waste disposal, airport, facility maintenance, finance, and essential corporate services. Many unseen functions and tasks are continuing throughout this period. Among them, on-going work for: financial year end and audit, staffing changes, various studies and reports, capital projects, land sales and developments, strategic planning, economic development activities, recreation facility and service planning, and more. Prior to the interruption of the coronavirus there were many Province-wide Provincial-Municipal consultations underway, including: public health, emergency health, police service boards, employment services, municipal organizational reviews. While some of these are on hold, others continue using tele and video-conferencing meeting methods and the Municipality remains engaged.
For those still working, Municipal staff and those in various businesses and agencies in Sioux Lookout, they were all busy working before the coronavirus and they are all still busy now, working differently through this unusual period.