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UW staff asked to help out region's health services

Employees can temporarily redeploy to high-needs areas
University of Waterloo campus
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The region's health and wellness services are feeling the strain of the Omicron variant and are pleading for help. 

The region contacted the University of Waterloo asking for employees to help fight on the COVID front lines.

In a statement, Chris Wilson-Smith, director of media relations and issues management at UW, said,"With the transmission of the Omicron variant placing a strain on our health and wellness system across the region and country, the Region of Waterloo reached out to the University for support. We readily agreed to help as we are fully aware that it will take all of us coming together to manage our way through this pandemic. Our community needs us now more than ever, so we are using our collective resources to support our front line workers." 

An email was provided to UW employees on Wednesday, asking staff to consider two options to support the community: either to be temporarily redeployed to work in a hospital or other community setting, and/or volunteering on their own time in high-need areas.

These areas include:

  • Environmental services: wiping down touch surfaces, mopping and cleaning, disposing of garbage
  • Food services: portioning food, rolling cutlery, working in the dish room 
  • Virtual visits with residents at long-term care and retirement facilities
  • Patient experience assistants: answering call bells to determine patient needs, providing food and refreshments
  • Staffing the Emergency Child Care Services for essential workers

If an employee chooses to be temporarily redeployed, they must commit to a minimum of 12 hours per week over a three-to-five-week period. If required, training will be provided by the region.

"All staff who are temporarily redeployed must receive approval from their supervisors and made assurances employees will not be replaced during their deployment period," the university said in a statement. Some UW staff will not be able to redeploy based on their necessity such as roles in plant operations, custodial services, campus housing, food services and special constable services, as well as some roles in campus wellness.

UW said it is negotiating a memorandum of agreement between Waterloo and the region for staff who are temporarily deployed and that further information will be available soon. 

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