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Million-dollar theft leads to layoffs at Northlands parking

EDMONTON — Northlands laid off all of its parking cashiers this week after more than a million dollars in fees went missing in the past year.

An internal memo to employees said two audits found “compelling evidence” that staff were skimming off 12 to 19 per cent of parking transactions.

“Although everyone may not have been part of the problem, it was evident that many people in the department were participating in the theft or aware of the issue.”

To pinpoint the culprits would have cost the non-profit corporation another $400,000, so instead, they laid off all the cashiers and their supervisors – roughly 30 people.

“Due to the systemic nature of the issue, Northlands decided to relieve the cashiers of their duties and have outsourced all parking cashier services,” President and CEO Tim Reid said in an email statement.

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Staff were given severance pay but many are upset about the way Northlands handled the problem.

Sarah Pollard said, “I feel insulted. I’ve never been labeled a thief. I can’t believe I’ve been labeled a thief.”

Pollard also questions whether the money was even stolen. If it was, she doubts it was by a cashier.

“We have to balance at the end of every night. We have to sign for our floats. It’s not just a question of here’s money and there’s no accountability,” said Pollard. “The fact they think a whole department has stolen one million dollars and [we] all know about it and there are little ring-leaders and inside trading, that’s ridiculous.”

Former cashier, Sonia Phillips said she thinks the reason for the missing million is likely far less nefarious.

“I think it’s probably a discrepancy on how the audits were done and how we as parking cashiers were told to do certain procedures.”

The employees who spoke with Global News say they are all considering speaking with a lawyer.

Northlands officials would not say whether they filed a complaint about the theft with Edmonton police.

Managers’ and parking attendants’ jobs were not affected.

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