CUTRIC COVID-19 Internal Continuity Plan: March 2020

CUTRIC Internal Operations Continuity Plan

In light of the challenges associated with COVID-19, and the unfolding economic crisis emanating from market crashes allied to the pandemic, the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) has prepared the following COVID-19 Continuity Plan for its staff.

CUTRIC puts the safety of its workers first. It is of paramount importance that we work to ensure one another’s health and wellness during this period and that we do not inadvertently expose one another to risk.

Given that CUTRIC is a highly digitized and tech-savvy organization, the mitigation measure taken below are aimed at minimizing disruption, while enabling workflow to continue effectively.

1. Staff Work From Home Procedures

As of March 6th 2020, all staff have been asked to work from home, and should continue doing so until further notice. This period may last until the end of April.

  • This affects staff working from the Toronto Telsec offices as well Montreal’s La Gare offices. Staff that normally commute in part-time or on occasion from Hamilton, Waterloo, and Kingston are asked to refrain from doing so until further notice.
    • Telsec & La Gare: CUTRIC has requested formal (in writing) confirmation of safety and COVID-19 Mitigation Protocols from both Telsec and La Gare at this time. What we have received to date is captured below.
      • La Gare has been closed since March 16th when the Government of Quebec ordered public spaces to close. La Gare will communicate with CUTRIC staff over upcoming days to provide updates on their closure status, but they are following government guidance and are expecting to be closed for a few weeks.
      • Telsec has informed CUTRIC that the 1 Yonge Street building facility has a procedure in place for combating the virus, although we have not received details of these procedures. Telsec also informed CUTRIC that it will be taking extra precautions, though we are not aware of what those precautions are. Telsec appears to be open for business still.
    • Based on this information, CUTRIC requires its staff to refrain from entering those facilities until further notice. If there is an urgent requirement (i.e. to pick up a personal item or a critical work item), please let Grace know so that she can communicate it to the CEO who will make a decision about the risk of entry-exit to the facility in question. Any staff entering or exiting Telsec or La Gare at this time without CEO permission does so at their own risk.

2. Digital Communications & Staff Meetings

An additional Zoom Conference line has been purchased to ensure no overlaps in CUTRIC meetings; there are now three Zoom lines available plus Google Video Chat tools to allow multiple staff teams to meet digitally at the same time without disruption.

  • Email and Google Chat, as well as Trello boards and Smartsheets, remain our tools of core communication going forward.
  • Please remember to turn on your video for staff meetings. Given the isolating feelings that arise with working from home on a long-term basis, video conferencing helps to humanize one another and to stay connected.

3. Staff Sensitivity to Family Crises

Please remember that some staff have small children at home and since all schools are shut, all daycares are shut, and all recreational camps are shut, many of your fellow colleagues need to babysit and home-school their children all day while also delivering on CUTRIC full-time workloads. Additionally, some CUTRIC staff have family members with suppressed immune systems and/or family members who have recently been exposed to COVID-19 and are therefore quarantined or isolated in extreme ways to counter-measure exposure or infection risk.

  • Sensitivity to these issues is needed, given that it means staff with children are going to be exceptionally exhausted, emotionally strained and challenged to sustain mental health. 
  • CUTRIC staff who are healthy and who do not face these family pressures are asked to help, to the extent possible, in accommodating their colleagues who do when asked to do so.

4. Staff Vacations

Several staff have booked vacation in March, April and May.

  • Full-time permanent staff who have booked vacation in March, April or May may seek approval to re-book vacation in June onward, noting that no approvals will be enabled in the week prior to or the week of the Conference. (Please submit your revised vacation request to your direct manager for first approval and, based on that approval, please submit to me for additional approval.)
  • Full-time or part-time staff who work on a Term Date Contract (i.e. your contract has an end-term date) may choose to take their vacation as it stands, reschedule to another timeslot within the Term period (noting the bar on pre- and during-Conference timeslots), or seek to be paid out at the end of the term of their contract, which will occur automatically if a vacation period is not selected between now and the end of the term.
  • CUTRIC is following Health Canada’s guidance on travel bans and recommendations. Staff who take vacation during this period, and who choose to travel against those recommendations, are asked to report their intentions to the CEO so that mitigation protocols can be put into place for staff to ensure the safety of the team upon the employee’s return from vacation.

5. Staff Sick Days

  • If ill, staff may call in sick per usual per the maximum days in individual Employment Agreements, after which sick days are unpaid.
  • Official quarantine required by a COVID-19 positive assessment will be paid by CUTRIC and does not require a doctor’s note. CUTRIC’s CEO will work with staff who face the challenge of an infection on a 1:1 basis to determine an appropriate solution for the staffer that ensures a healthy staff return to work protocol.

6. Staff Health & Wellness Programming

  • CUTRIC’s CEO will be reviewing CUTRIC’s health and wellness program this year to determine whether an increase in the health care spending account is feasible starting in Q3 2020.

If you have any questions, please send them to Grace Reilly so she can compile staff queries in a weekly format and we can address all queries at weekly staff meetings in a coordinated fashion as the Continuity Plan is updated on an as-needed basis.

The Continuity Plan will be posted on CUTRIC’s website on the “Team” page so that staff can access the latest version of the document there at any time.