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Looking ahead to May

The University of Toronto community has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with outstanding courage, creativity and generosity. In the face of this unprecedented global crisis, our staff, faculty and librarians are doing their part to ensure that our teaching and, where possible, research and operations continue.

This historic crisis has also required us to make many difficult decisions, often with little lead time and limited or rapidly changing information. At every stage, our foremost concern has been the health and wellbeing of all members of the U of T community. We are committed to acting responsibly and with great care, to reduce any negative impact on our employees to the extent possible.

Promising signs

The most recent regional and provincial epidemiological data contain some promising signs. The provincial government has announced that the curve is flattening, and the wave of new community transmission cases appears to have peaked. We expect that initial details of Ontario’s framework for a gradual, measured and safe reopening of the province will be announced in the next few days.

As a result, the University can begin looking ahead to resuming some functions in the coming weeks. But the widely shared consensus is that we will not return to normal in one single step. Larger gatherings and activities where physical distancing is not feasible will not be permitted for many weeks or months. As a result, we expect that the impact on U of T’s operations will be uneven, with some services and functions returning sooner than others.

Restart and recovery

Our crisis response teams have been working tirelessly since the start of the pandemic. We are now in the process of reorienting them to focus on restarting and recovery in areas such as academic continuity, student supports, research, human resources and business operations. These refocused teams will begin to engage with academic divisions in developing the restart and recovery plans in the near future.

Pay continuity

The University of Toronto’s commitment to pay continuity for our faculty, librarians and staff has been consistent since March 14. Most have been working from home, while others – essential workers or those performing critical functions – have been working on site. This will continue to be the case after April 30.

Some of our staff members have been unable to work at all, because their units have completely or partially shut down due to physical distancing requirements. In the coming weeks, leaders across the University will be exploring all options to see how we can keep staff in these units engaged and supported.

Public sector organizations, such as universities, have been declared ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Nevertheless, we continue to advocate actively with government partners to ensure that the unique circumstances of the University are recognized and supported. That said, we may face some difficult decisions ahead if we must sustain prolonged shutdowns in certain parts of the University and we are not able to find alternative solutions or support from government or other sources. In the meantime, we will do all we can to advance the interests of the University and its community members.

Services available to employees

All of our employees are respected and valued members of the University of Toronto community, whose contributions are integral to the pursuit of our mission. We remain committed to your wellbeing, especially in this most difficult and stressful time.

As COVID-19 related stress continues, we would like to remind all employees of the services that are available to you through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). If you are experiencing distress, please reach out at any time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – by contacting the EFAP at:

(Toll-free) 1-800-663-1142
(TTY) 1-866-398-9505
(Collect) 604-689-1717
http://benefits.hrandequity.utoronto.ca/efap/

For all the latest information, please see the University’s Coronavirus page. Please take the time to review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), the HR & Equity COVID-19 website, and the Research COVID-19 FAQs. If you or members of your unit have a question that is not covered, please use the Contact Us button located at the top of the FAQ section to submit your question.