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TransCanada lays off 185 workers, Scotiabank closes Calgary call centre

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling speaks to reporters following the company's annual meeting in Calgary, May 2, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – TransCanada says it has laid off almost 200 workers throughout its North American operations, and Scotiabank has closed its Calgary Contact Centre in the latest round of layoffs.

TransCanada spokesperson Mark Cooper confirmed in an email to Global News on Tuesday that 185 employees in the “major projects department” were told their positions have been eliminated.

“This includes approximately 100 full time employees (the remainder contractors) have been advised that their positions have been eliminated,” wrote Cooper.

He said the positions were cut after a restructuring of the department in order to effectively move forward with TransCanada’s $46-billion capital growth plan.

“We are committed to ensuring all of the employees and contractors are treated fairly and respectfully and we wish them all the best in the future.”

Scotiabank spokesperson Andrew Chornenky said the closure of the Calgary Contact Centre comes after a “thorough review” of all centres.

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“Local market conditions have made it difficult to maintain appropriate staffing in Calgary to support the needs of our customers,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

“We have made the very difficult decision to close the Calgary Contact Centre effective immediately.”

Chornenky said 109 Scotiabank employees will lose their jobs as a result, including 24 people who are currently on various types of leave. He said centres in Halifax and Toronto will be expanded.

Global News received emails from people claiming to have worked for Scotiabank, who said jobs were lost in Calgary due to expansion at centres in Mexico and Colombia. The employees wished to remain anonymous, claiming severance packages would be taken away if they spoke to media.

On Wednesday, Chornenky admitted the Mexico and Colombia call centres have been expanded over the last year. He said they provide service in Spanish and there’s been an increase in Spanish-speaking clients.

“Keeping Calgary’s office had always been a challenging task, that’s why they came to the difficult decision of closing it,” he said, noting it was hard to retain employees when the job market was booming. He said 80 per cent of calls answered at centres in Canada are answered by Canadian employees.

Chornenky said all Scotiabank employees—whether in Canada, Mexico or Colombia—have the same rights and privileges.

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The company remains “committed to identifying alternate jobs where possible and severance and career transition packages as necessary” for affected employees, said a statement.

Encana and Cenovus Energy were also rumoured to be cutting staff on Tuesday.

Encana spokesperson Jay Averill told Global the company’s organizational structure was changed in November 2013, which resulted in an approximate 25 per cent reduction in staff.

Averill said Encana is “in the process of making additional changes to our structure” over the coming weeks.

“We do expect some staff reductions but nothing near the scale of what we undertook in 2013.”

A spokesperson from Cenovus Energy denied any layoffs took place on Tuesday in a phone call with Global News, after acknowledging the company was aware rumours were circulating on social media. The spokesperson said any news of layoffs at Cenovus was “completely false.”

With files from Tomasia DaSilva

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