Working and providing services for you - the residents of Thunder Bay. 

As we continue to face the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, City of Thunder Bay employees are working on the front lines and behind the scenes trying to navigate the ever-changing work environment to ensure that essential City services continue to operate.

It has been a challenging time for many to learn and implement new safety precautions, navigate new work environments, all while managing family and personal needs, including mental health.

It has been a difficult time for everyone. It is important to recognize and highlight the great work City employees are doing and to let them know they are appreciated.


Feature Employee Spotlight

Laura Chard - Support Service WorkerLaura Chard is a Support Service Worker at Jasper Place and has been employed with the City of Thunder Bay for 21 years.

What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy being able to help our tenants and knowing that I am making their day a little bit better and brighter.

What is it like being a Support Service Worker during this time? 
Working during this time is both emotional and yet very rewarding. We are our tenants’ everything right now as they cannot see family or friends outside of those who live and work here. We have become their family and their support system.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?
Yes, there are many protocols in place to help keep us and our tenants safe. Safety protocols include wearing the proper PPE, going through a screening desk when entering the building, the tenants have no outside visitors, and their groceries get delivered directly to the home, among many other protocols.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?
I think the best thing residents can do is to do their part to stay home if possible! And we will continue to do our part to help provide support to our tenants during this difficult time.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?
As soon as I get home I change my clothes, wash up and then clean my lunch containers.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?
The silver lining would be being there for our tenants during this difficult time. Their world has changed drastically and it feels good to know that I am there to support them through it.

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working out in the community during this time?
Yes, we have signs with hearts posted on all of our tenants’ doors where we exchange words of encouragement – it is really inspiring. There have also been many words of thanks and many shared tears from our tenants’ family and friends knowing we are making our tenants feel safe.

Special thanks to Laura for sharing herviews on what it is like being a Support Service Worker during this time.

Past Employee Spotlights

Danny Bois - Waste Collection Operator 
Danny Bois - Waste Collection OperatorDanny Bois is a Waste Collection Operator and has been employed with the City of Thunder Bay's Solid Waste & Recycling Services Section for 3 years. 

What do you like most about your job? 
For me, the highlights of my job are that I get to be outside and active with changing scenery and a good group of guys that help make work fun.

What is it like being a Waste Collection Operator during this time?
It’s definitely different—we are taking more precautions from simple to complex measures. We are ensuring physical distancing with residents and changing our daily routines to be safer.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?
Yes, we are equipped with more PPE and we have Plexiglas partitions in the cab of our two-man trucks that help protect us when physical distancing isn’t feasible. Also, our morning routine has changed. Instead of gathering with all employees on-site for the daily instructions, we are doing this individually in a staggered approach.

Are you noticing an increase in amount of work?
Yes, this time of year is usually busier and with many people staying home we are seeing an increased amount of waste.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?
The most important thing residents can do to help us is to ensure they properly bag and seal all their household waste. We often come across open garbage with tissue paper and other potentially hazardous waste in open cans or bags, so we ask that residents work to avoid this for everyone’s safety. Also, we are happy to answer questions but ask residents to respect physical distancing and stand at least two metres away from us.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?
At the end of the work day, I sanitize my stuff and shower at work before changing into my regular clothes, which I then change again once home.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?
One silver lining is that there is less traffic for us to contend with. And ultimately with everyone doing their part to stay safe, I would hope this will end sooner than later so we can go back to normalcy. 

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working out in the community during this time?
We are seeing a lot of heightened appreciation from the community with signs and many gestures of gratitude, which is really nice.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
I’d just like to reiterate for residents to make a conscious effort to please ensure they bag their garbage and seal it tightly.

Special thanks to Danny for sharing his views on what it is like being a Waste Collection Operator during this time.

Jeffrey Duce - Building Inspector 
Jeffrey Duce - Building Inspector Jeffrey Duce is a Building Inspector and has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 12 years.

What do you like most about your job?

I’d say what I like most are the technical challenges that come up in the field. Things that force you to problem solve, think outside the box, and collaborate with colleagues to find acceptable solutions.

What is it like being a Building Inspector during this time?

It’s weird. Everyone I talk to in the field is feeling the same way. Contractors are putting measures in place on the job sites such as screening questions, changing work schedules to limit the amount of people in an area at a time, many staff wear masks, and hand washing stations have been added.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

Absolutely. The City has been quite proactive and is keeping our wellbeing a priority. Many of us have offices set up in our homes and have a specific time frame for when we can access the office to limit the social interactions between employees. Like I said it is weird, but I do appreciate it. A procedure was also created and is continuously updated for screening and entering private residences. We are also equipped with hand sanitizer and masks.

Are you noticing an increase or change in amount of work?

At first the work was limited, but as things progress and as the Government slowly lightens the limitations in the Emergency Order, more and more projects are being allowed to open back up and proceed. Based on how things are progressing, I have my fingers crossed that the construction season will be back full tilt before we know it.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?

Stay at home. I drive across the city from job site to job site and I have to say, the city is quieter than it normally would be. However, I still see people out and about in groups not respecting the importance of social distancing. I know it is very hard and challenging for society in many ways but, we still have to respect each other and follow the rules. For those who are respecting social distancing and doing their part, I appreciate the efforts!

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

My wife wipes my keys and wallet off when I walk in the door and escorts me directly to the sink to wash up, and my boots stay outside.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?

I don’t know, maybe it’s as simple as seeing how our community can proactively work together and respect the severity of this situation. There is a chance that this pandemic could possibly change how we view our everyday lives and operations for the better.

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working in the community during this time?

Well come on – the Snow Birds! That was an awesome display for uplifting our emotions while staying locked away in our homes. My wife told me about the look on our kid’s faces when they flew over our house and I heard all about it when I got home.


*Please note this interview was conducted prior to the tragic accident that took place on May 17. The City of Thunder Bay would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to those who were affected. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I feel very grateful to be providing an essential service and to still be working during these times. Thank you to everyone who is still working to provide care and services that we all rely on. And thank you, and hang in there, to those who are not working and are at home doing their part.

Special thanks to Jeffrey for sharing his views on what it is like being a Building Inspector during this time.

Erika Cunningham - Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) at Algoma Child Care Centre
Erika Cunningham - Registered Early Childhood Educator Erika Cunningham is a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) who has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 5 years. Erika is working at the Algoma Child Care Centre to help provide emergency child care for children of front line essential workers.

What do you like most about your job?

Of course the children are always number one, helping them to develop their social skills in a safe and caring environment. You’re greeted with a hug and smile going into work every day. Giving parents peace of mind knowing their children are well cared for in their absence is an amazing feeling.

What is it like being an emergency child care worker during this time?

It’s the same but not, you’re still there for the children and families every day, but there’s a lot more cleaning and protocols put in place. Social distancing with children is a struggle, and they have a hard time understanding why they can’t hug their friends or share certain toys.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) every day, physical distancing from coworkers and families, and screening each child and family entering the centre. We wash the children’s hands when entering the building and make sure everything goes home to be washed for the next day.

Are you noticing an increase or change in amount of work?

My role has changed, which is something new and different from what I’m used to. Being a screener I do a lot of cleaning of the centre and toys, as well as being the face to greet the families and children when they enter. The work amount is still there just with some added safety precautions along with it.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?

Social distancing and washing hands a lot are the main actions to help keep families and workers safe. There’s been an amazing amount of families being aware of the symptoms of covid and being so active in watching out for them in themselves and their children.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

Sanitizing and washing hands when leaving work, changing my clothes when I get home as well as washing any lunch containers I’ve used for the day. Lastly showering and then I am able to enjoy time with my family.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?

During this time it’s been an honour to be able to help out the front line workers and their families. The gratitude we see from these families has been overwhelming, and it really puts into perspective how important our job is.

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working in the community during this time?
The dedication of everybody. It’s scary and it’s hard to explain to your children why they just can’t do certain things right now. It’s been inspiring to see grocery staff so helpful and friendly during all of this on top of all the extra safety and cleaning they have to do. Secondly, it’s amazing to see companies in town changing aspects of their business to make safety supplies like masks and hand sanitizer.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

I just want to add how proud I am of my coworkers and supervisors for spending the time and energy to get the emergency care up and running, you’re all amazing!

Special thanks to Erika for what it's like being a Registered Early Childhood Educator during this time. 

Shane Muir - Community Paramedicine Coordinator (Acting) at Superior North EMS
Shane Muir - Community Paramedicine Coordinator Shane Muir is a Community Paramedicine Coordinator (Acting), the Incident Management System Liaison Officer, and the COVID-19 Task Force Manager, at Superior North EMS, and has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 13 years.

We discussed with Shane what it is like working during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do you like most about your job?

Being able to find ways to give back to the community using new and innovative ways to provide front-line health care, and support other health care organizations, health care workers and front-line Paramedics.

What is it like being a Community Paramedicine Coordinator during this time?

The Pandemic is making work really busy and time seems to pass by really quickly. There is an increased anxiety amongst the public and pressure on the health care system and emergency medical services sectors to provide a rapid and effective community pandemic response. There has been a high level of demand for services, which we continue to be ready to provide. However, constantly being in a state of high alert and being ready to respond, can cause an inability to relax or switch off at the end of the day. I personally have the tendency to be constantly thinking of the next day’s operations or what an appropriate initiative might be and am finding it very difficult to switch off.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

Oh yes, we have an abundance of protocols in place to keep us all safe on the job. For one we wear full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and do advanced infection protection and control measure training, especially for those on the Task Force who are conducting tests for COVID-19. We also have protocols in place for deep cleaning, and making sure specimens and infectious materials are well handled appropriately and kept safe at the right temperatures. In addition, when you enter the door way to our building we are initially screened when coming in and we are constantly and actively monitoring ourselves for any symptoms throughout the day. There are protocols in place everywhere you look around here.

Are you noticing an increase in the amount of work?

Absolutely. There has been a massive increase in the amount of work. In particular, the Paramedics are really stepping up to fill those roles and putting themselves forward to provide the community with the best possible response they can. I can’t say enough good things about what they are doing out there! It’s really amazing to see how they’ve gone outside of their normal roles to provide the community with the services they need. We have taken on testing for COVID-19, are helping out with public health, and starting new initiatives – which is all new territory for us. Things are working extremely well and it just goes to show that Paramedics are a great value to the health care system. Gaps have been recognized and Paramedics have been able to step up to fill those gaps by being flexible and adaptable to this situation.

What can residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?

They should follow the public health guidelines and recommendations and keep isolated when possible. They should also maintain physical distancing when out and wash their hands as much as possible. It is important to protect themselves and their families by staying indoors when possible and not being in close contact with people outside of their household. By doing all of these measures, it will significantly help those working out in the community.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

I follow a lot of the similar protocols at home that I do at work. In my household, we do a lot of extra handwashing. We are making sure all of our surfaces are disinfected and clean. When possible, we are trying to make sure we only have in-person contact with the people in our household. When we are outside of our home, we are maintaining physical distancing and following the general public health guidelines as much as possible. We are reiterating these messages with our kids every day and trying to teach them how to be safe and not to get sick.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?

Yes there is – I think it is really bringing to light the important work that Paramedics do for our community. It is showing that they are more valuable than just being on the ambulance, transporting patients and providing immediate care. They have had the opportunity to really come into the health care system and show how efficient and productive they can be. I think that is a huge silver lining to our profession as a whole.

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working out in the community during this time?

Yes I have. We have had amazing feedback come back from the community. We have done a lot of in-home testing for COVID-19. At first those getting tested and their families are very anxious, but the Paramedics are doing an amazing job to help decrease their anxiety, explain everything in detail, and make sure people feel at ease. We have had an amazing amount of feedback through emails and phone calls saying how great our Paramedics have been throughout this all, how appreciative they are, and that they can’t thank us enough for the support we are providing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to say thank you to all of the Paramedics out there working on the front lines and doing the COVID-19 testing. They have really stepped up to provide necessary services for our community. We see how much the Paramedics really do care – they are really special people and true professionals. It’s amazing to see them work with other health care organizations as well as provide cross-service support to help whenever they can. 

Special thanks to Shane for sharing his views on what it is like being a Community Paramedicine Coordinator during this time.

Amanda Suttie - Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Operator
Amanda Suttie - Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection OperatorAmanda Suttie is a Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Operator and has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 1.5 years.

We discussed with Amanda what it is like working on the front line during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the variety of jobs that we get to do, it is different everyday. There are so many different things that we do and I really enjoy the challenge. We often have to work under pressure and go pedal to the metal in order to fix an issue.

What is it like being a Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Operator during this time?

At first I was a little nervous working during this difficult time, but I have gotten used to it over time. Our shifts have changed in order to accommodate the workload and we have been set up with the proper safety equipment so I feel a lot better.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

Yes – there are a lot of protocols in place. The first protocol is the screening questions. 
When residents call in to request in-home service, they are asked a series of screening questions in order to help prepare us for entering the home. The screening questions help us determine what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) we wear in the home.

Are you noticing an increase in amount of work?

Not currently as we are only responding to emergency requests that are hazardous to the public including water main breaks, service leaks that impact resident’s drinking water or sewer related issues. Currently I am working on the Sewer Truck and it’s been quite busy due to the time of year, as we do get more sewer backups during the spring.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?

Firstly if a resident is requesting in-home service for an issue such as a sewer backup or water entering the basement, they should answer all of the screening questions truthfully. It will help better prepare myself and my colleagues, give us a better idea of what to expect and allow us to wear the proper PPE. Secondly, don’t flush wipes down the toilet because it clogs the sewer lines. I have had to go into many people’s houses during this pandemic because people choose to flush wipes or paper towel down the drain. These items do not break down properly and end up clogging the sewer system. Lastly, be respectful of City workers during this pandemic because working during this time can be very stressful and we are doing the best we can.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

Because I wear a Tyvek suit while I am at work and can dispose of it when I am done, I feel a lot safer when I get home. As soon as I get home I wash my hands and my clothes and try not to touch my face. I also disinfect my vehicle every day.

Special thanks to Amanda for sharing her views on what it is like being a Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Operator during this time.

Terra DeCorte - Support Service Worker at Jasper Place
Employee Spotlight - Terra DeCorte Terra DeCorte is a Support Service Worker at Jasper Place and has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 14 years.

We discussed with Terra what it is like working on the front line during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do you like most about your job?

I really like being able to be part of other people’s lives. The tenants are not my direct family, but at the same time they make up my extended family. 

What is it like being a Support Service Worker during this time?

It’s definitely a little challenging. On top of having to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) all the time, we are supporting our tenant’s mental health now more than we ever have before. Now essentially, we are our tenants’ family as we are the only ones they can have in-person contact with. So it’s really important for us to be there for them as much as we can be. 

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

For sure there are. All of the Support Service Workers are getting their temperature taken twice a day. Plus we are mandated to wear masks and gloves all day when we are in the building. Hand washing seems more abundant than ever. Plus there are a lot of things we get our tenants to partake in including practicing physical distancing when possible and getting them to wash their hands more frequently. If our tenants need to leave the building for any reason, they are being screened as they re-enter the building. 

Are you noticing an increase in the amount of work?

Yes - we are doing a lot of deliveries as people are dropping off groceries or prescriptions to our tenants, but are unable to enter the building. Normally, we would not have to do those types of things because they’d be delivered directly to the apartment. Lastly, we are noticing that our tenants are feeling a little more down than usual, so we are spending more time in their apartments having one-on-one conversations with them.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

My family knows that when I get home, they cannot touch me. The first thing I do is take my shoes off at the door and take them outside to spray them with disinfectant spray. Then I take the containers from my lunch bag put them in the sink to sanitize them and then I sanitize my lunch bag. I take my uniform off and put it directly into the washing machine. And finally I have a quick shower. After I am done all of these things, I finally feel safe and can be close to my family!

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?

Definitely, I believe the silver lining is that we have an amazing group of coworkers that have banded together and are all supporting one another as we continue to do our jobs. As well, I think our tenants now have a better knowledge of what we do and appreciate that we are doing all that we can to keep them safe during these uncertain times. 

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working out in the community during this time?

Oh for sure! There are some really nice signs that our tenant’s families have made and placed in the yard so all can see them. There have also been beautiful chalk writings on the sidewalks and window paintings that say things such as “Stay Strong” and “Thank You”. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank the City for having such a great Pandemic Plan. Here at Jasper Place, everything was shut down before it was shut down everywhere else. We had to pick a place to work immediately, wear PPE, and screeners were at the door from the beginning. As a Support Service Worker (Personal Support Worker) today, we are really thankful for what we have here at Jasper Place and at Pioneer Ridge. 

Special thanks to Terra for sharing her views on what it is like being a Support Service Worker during this time. 

 Andy Parr - Thunder Bay Transit Driver
Andy Parr - Thunder Bay Transit DriverAndy Parr is a Driver with Thunder Bay Transit and has been employed at the City of Thunder Bay for 22 years.

We sat down with Andy to discuss what it is like working on the front line to provide this essential service to the community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do you like most about your job?

I like interacting with the regular passengers that you get to know on their daily commute to work. I've built a good relationship with them and we've become part of each others daily lives, which is really nice. 

What is it like being a Transit Driver during this time?

Work is different – it’s not what it used to be. We do not get to interact with passengers like we used to. All the passengers sit in the back and we don’t get a lot of people coming up to talk to us.

Are there any special protocols in place to keep you safe on the job?

Yes, people use the rear of the bus to enter and exit the bus. There is no fare or contact, so passengers are not required to show a pass, transfer, punch card or student card. They have roped off an area that is approximately 3 metres to help protect the Driver. Drivers are also to enter and exit from the front of the bus.

Are you noticing an increase in the number of residents using Transit?

Generally no, however; Thunder Bay Transit has reduced its frequencies from every 15 and 30 minutes, to every 45 minutes. This makes some routes busier than others during peak travel times. During these busy times, we have had to increase the number of busses on the road to carry the overflow of passengers.

What should residents do to help keep you and your colleagues safe?

Refrain from using the bus for frivolous reasons. Please try and use the bus for only essential trips. This includes trips to work, going to the hospital or medical appointments, or trips to the grocery store.

What do you do when you get home to keep you and your household safe?

I wash my hands as soon as I get home. I take my uniform off and shower and then put on clean clothes.

Is there any silver lining to working during this difficult time?

It is a lot less stressful driving! There are a lot less people on the road and I am not getting cut off as often as I usually do.

Have you witnessed or heard of anything inspiring while working out in the community during this time?

A couple Saturdays ago while driving by the mall near the airport, an older couple pulled up next to my bus. The gentleman came towards the driver’s side window and he asked me if I’d like a fresh Persian. I declined the offer for Persian, but then they began to thank me for continuing to work and said to stay safe. I thought this was very thoughtful and I was really touched by this gesture. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to stress to not ride the bus unless you need to. Use the bus only for essential services, not for fun or to go visit friends and family. 

While out in the community, be sure to give Andy and the other Transit Drivers a wave of appreciation when you see them passing by!

Special thanks to Andy for sharing his views and what it is like being a Transit Driver during this time.


During the COVID-19 Pandemic, City of Thunder Bay employees continue to work to ensure essential services continue to operate. This includes staff from (but not limited to):

  • Superior North EMS, who continue to provide emergency medical response across the District of Thunder Bay
  • Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, who continue to respond to fires and emergencies
  • Pioneer Ridge Home for the Aged and Jasper Place, including the doctors, nurses, personal support workers, food service workers, recreational therapists and administrative staff, who are keeping the residents safe and well, in a time when they are unable to have family or friends visit them
  • Meals on Wheels, who continue to deliver meals to adults unable to prepare adequate meals through contactless delivery
  • Thunder Bay Transit, who continue to provide public transportation to residents getting to their essential workplaces, medical appointments and grocery stores
  • Sewer and Water, who keep the taps flowing so residents can have clean drinking water and are able wash their hands
  • By-Law Enforcement, who are helping educate residents about how to stay safe, including the importance of staying home and physical distancing
  • Waste Collection and the Landfill Site, who continue to collect and deal with residents’ waste
  • Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch, who continue to answer questions and help keep residents informed
  • Corporate Information Technology, who help and continue to help deploy technology for employees to work from home or at the office efficiently
  • Roads, who continue to maintain traffic and pedestrian control devices required for the safety of motorists and pedestrians getting to their essential locations
  • Across the Corporation, who work in customer service and administration, who continue to answer phone calls, take appointments, process licenses and applications, among other duties  

These are just a few areas among many, where the staff continue to provide essential City services on the front line and behind the scenes.

To find out how service are affected and to access City contact information during the COVID-19 Pandemic, visit the new A-Z City Services Directory. The A-Z listing is maintained with the latest information on services as they are operating, reduced, or unavailable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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