Toronto moving ahead with reopening City Hall in January 'to set an example': Mayor Tory
Toronto Mayor John Tory said Tuesday that the city's downtown core needs to be "firing on all cylinders again" as fully vaccinated city staff plan to return to their offices at the beginning of next year.
Tory's comments come after announcing earlier Tuesday that all city office buildings, including city hall, will be reopened on Jan. 4, while Toronto public sector employees will come back to their workplaces for at least three days a week. Roughly one-quarter of the city's staff has been able to work from home during the pandemic, while 99 per cent of City of Toronto employees are vaccinated, Tory said.
"I think it's in the best interest of the economy, not just the Toronto economy, but the national economy to have, you know, people back at work here and I hope that we're setting an example the private sector of Toronto follows as well, especially in the downtown core," Tory said in an interview.
"The downtown core of Toronto represents a big chunk of the national economy. We've got to get it firing on all cylinders again, for the sake of our prosperity and the well being of our people."
Tory said he's been in discussions with downtown employers to return workers to their offices and is "very bullish" that the city can come back stronger than before the pandemic, given the outreach some businesses have made in looking to expand within Toronto.
"I was on a call with the big employers the other day and a leasing company was on there saying they had the best month they had since the beginning of the pandemic," he said. "I have huge continuing interest in people coming here from abroad to invest in great jobs. I continue to do virtual trade missions throughout the pandemic and have had lots of success."
However, Tory said he is concerned about potential employee burnout as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year and a new variant of concern has been identified by the World Health Organization but is hopeful that returning to work will ease any staff issues.
"One of the advantages of people being back at work is you have a better chance to interact with them and to, perhaps, have them be more forthright with you," Tory said.
"Certainly the workers here have gone to great lengths in dealing with many different issues like homelessness during the pandemic and a lot of things [like] running the [vaccination] clinics … I'm optimistic that we'll be able to get a better grip on that and how big of an issue that represents."