Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says city was ahead of the coronavirus pandemic curve

News Apr 23, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

In late March when Hamilton and the rest of the province were responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said there was no need to declare a state of emergency.

“There is no net benefit declaring anything,” said Eisenberger.

He said the province had declared a state of emergency on March 17 — which was recently extended until the middle of May — and at the time that all 444 provincial municipalities would be treated “equally and fairly.”

But a month later on April 17, Eisenberger declared a state of emergency for the city following other municipalities, including Halton Region and in Niagara.

The mayor defended his declaration, arguing that the day before the province issued temporary orders that allowed municipalities to “take any reasonable measure necessary to respond to COVID-19.” The authority for municipalities to use is a technical matter that allows them to bypass any union contracts and redeploy staff, stated Eisenberger.

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark stated in an April 16 letter to council that the provincial order allows municipalities to redeploy staff, to use volunteers to perform union work, cancel leaves and change assignment of work.

But the mayor rejected the idea the city will use the unprecedented authority. He said that since the pandemic began, the city’s relationship with the unions, including ATU, and CUPE, has been “fantastic.”

“We have been able to come up with creative ways to manage through the work that we needed to do,” he said. “We give full credit to the unions.”

City officials have, for instance, be able to retrain enough staff to provide limited leaf and yard waste service starting the week of April 20.

Hamilton did have a one-day dispute in late March where about 50 unionized waste collectors walked off the job over the proper protection for the coronavirus. The workers, represented by CUPE 5167, argued they didn’t have any way to clean their hands or establish physical distancing measures from each other. City officials managed to resolve the workers’ concerns.

The decision not to declare a state of emergency right away has drawn criticism from some Hamiltonians, but council is standing by its decision.

“It is important we combat the misinformation that is out there (because) of these keyboard morons,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla. “People are suggesting we were delayed in our response to the emergency, which is nonsense.”

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark agreed there is a contingent of people in the city who believe Hamilton was “late in moving forward” to declare a state of emergency.

“That is not the case at all,” he said. “It was simply not necessary.”

Eisenberger asked Steve Clark in March if the city should declare an emergency and the minister said it wasn’t necessary.

“There was no advantage or disadvantage to declare it one way or another,” said Eisenberger.

Eisenberger said the city immediately launched its emergency plan when the pandemic hit Hamilton, which included establishing the Emergency Operations Centre, overseen by Paul Johnson.

The centre took over day-to-day control of city services at a time when the city was reorganizing itself to deal with the pandemic. Councillors held their first meeting during the pandemic at city hall March 20 to delegate specific authority to the centre. The authority allowed the centre to make decisions that council may not be able to approve if it couldn’t meet because of the pandemic. The city was able to install technology that allows councillors to meeting electronically.

“We very quickly launched the (centre),” said Coun. Clark. “This was done very early in the crisis. The (centre) could accomplish the things that we needed to accomplish.”

Clark said other municipalities either didn’t have the opportunity or the foresight to establish their own emergency measures and were subsequently forced to declare a state of emergency to make the necessary decisions without their council’s authority.

“They didn’t have the means to launch an operations centre,” said Clark.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says city was ahead of the coronavirus pandemic curve

News Apr 23, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

In late March when Hamilton and the rest of the province were responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said there was no need to declare a state of emergency.

“There is no net benefit declaring anything,” said Eisenberger.

He said the province had declared a state of emergency on March 17 — which was recently extended until the middle of May — and at the time that all 444 provincial municipalities would be treated “equally and fairly.”

But a month later on April 17, Eisenberger declared a state of emergency for the city following other municipalities, including Halton Region and in Niagara.

Related Content

The mayor defended his declaration, arguing that the day before the province issued temporary orders that allowed municipalities to “take any reasonable measure necessary to respond to COVID-19.” The authority for municipalities to use is a technical matter that allows them to bypass any union contracts and redeploy staff, stated Eisenberger.

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark stated in an April 16 letter to council that the provincial order allows municipalities to redeploy staff, to use volunteers to perform union work, cancel leaves and change assignment of work.

But the mayor rejected the idea the city will use the unprecedented authority. He said that since the pandemic began, the city’s relationship with the unions, including ATU, and CUPE, has been “fantastic.”

“We have been able to come up with creative ways to manage through the work that we needed to do,” he said. “We give full credit to the unions.”

City officials have, for instance, be able to retrain enough staff to provide limited leaf and yard waste service starting the week of April 20.

Hamilton did have a one-day dispute in late March where about 50 unionized waste collectors walked off the job over the proper protection for the coronavirus. The workers, represented by CUPE 5167, argued they didn’t have any way to clean their hands or establish physical distancing measures from each other. City officials managed to resolve the workers’ concerns.

The decision not to declare a state of emergency right away has drawn criticism from some Hamiltonians, but council is standing by its decision.

“It is important we combat the misinformation that is out there (because) of these keyboard morons,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla. “People are suggesting we were delayed in our response to the emergency, which is nonsense.”

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark agreed there is a contingent of people in the city who believe Hamilton was “late in moving forward” to declare a state of emergency.

“That is not the case at all,” he said. “It was simply not necessary.”

Eisenberger asked Steve Clark in March if the city should declare an emergency and the minister said it wasn’t necessary.

“There was no advantage or disadvantage to declare it one way or another,” said Eisenberger.

Eisenberger said the city immediately launched its emergency plan when the pandemic hit Hamilton, which included establishing the Emergency Operations Centre, overseen by Paul Johnson.

The centre took over day-to-day control of city services at a time when the city was reorganizing itself to deal with the pandemic. Councillors held their first meeting during the pandemic at city hall March 20 to delegate specific authority to the centre. The authority allowed the centre to make decisions that council may not be able to approve if it couldn’t meet because of the pandemic. The city was able to install technology that allows councillors to meeting electronically.

“We very quickly launched the (centre),” said Coun. Clark. “This was done very early in the crisis. The (centre) could accomplish the things that we needed to accomplish.”

Clark said other municipalities either didn’t have the opportunity or the foresight to establish their own emergency measures and were subsequently forced to declare a state of emergency to make the necessary decisions without their council’s authority.

“They didn’t have the means to launch an operations centre,” said Clark.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says city was ahead of the coronavirus pandemic curve

News Apr 23, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

In late March when Hamilton and the rest of the province were responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Fred Eisenberger said there was no need to declare a state of emergency.

“There is no net benefit declaring anything,” said Eisenberger.

He said the province had declared a state of emergency on March 17 — which was recently extended until the middle of May — and at the time that all 444 provincial municipalities would be treated “equally and fairly.”

But a month later on April 17, Eisenberger declared a state of emergency for the city following other municipalities, including Halton Region and in Niagara.

Related Content

The mayor defended his declaration, arguing that the day before the province issued temporary orders that allowed municipalities to “take any reasonable measure necessary to respond to COVID-19.” The authority for municipalities to use is a technical matter that allows them to bypass any union contracts and redeploy staff, stated Eisenberger.

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark stated in an April 16 letter to council that the provincial order allows municipalities to redeploy staff, to use volunteers to perform union work, cancel leaves and change assignment of work.

But the mayor rejected the idea the city will use the unprecedented authority. He said that since the pandemic began, the city’s relationship with the unions, including ATU, and CUPE, has been “fantastic.”

“We have been able to come up with creative ways to manage through the work that we needed to do,” he said. “We give full credit to the unions.”

City officials have, for instance, be able to retrain enough staff to provide limited leaf and yard waste service starting the week of April 20.

Hamilton did have a one-day dispute in late March where about 50 unionized waste collectors walked off the job over the proper protection for the coronavirus. The workers, represented by CUPE 5167, argued they didn’t have any way to clean their hands or establish physical distancing measures from each other. City officials managed to resolve the workers’ concerns.

The decision not to declare a state of emergency right away has drawn criticism from some Hamiltonians, but council is standing by its decision.

“It is important we combat the misinformation that is out there (because) of these keyboard morons,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla. “People are suggesting we were delayed in our response to the emergency, which is nonsense.”

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark agreed there is a contingent of people in the city who believe Hamilton was “late in moving forward” to declare a state of emergency.

“That is not the case at all,” he said. “It was simply not necessary.”

Eisenberger asked Steve Clark in March if the city should declare an emergency and the minister said it wasn’t necessary.

“There was no advantage or disadvantage to declare it one way or another,” said Eisenberger.

Eisenberger said the city immediately launched its emergency plan when the pandemic hit Hamilton, which included establishing the Emergency Operations Centre, overseen by Paul Johnson.

The centre took over day-to-day control of city services at a time when the city was reorganizing itself to deal with the pandemic. Councillors held their first meeting during the pandemic at city hall March 20 to delegate specific authority to the centre. The authority allowed the centre to make decisions that council may not be able to approve if it couldn’t meet because of the pandemic. The city was able to install technology that allows councillors to meeting electronically.

“We very quickly launched the (centre),” said Coun. Clark. “This was done very early in the crisis. The (centre) could accomplish the things that we needed to accomplish.”

Clark said other municipalities either didn’t have the opportunity or the foresight to establish their own emergency measures and were subsequently forced to declare a state of emergency to make the necessary decisions without their council’s authority.

“They didn’t have the means to launch an operations centre,” said Clark.