December 22, 2016 3:37 pm
Updated: December 23, 2016 12:42 pm

Better Winnipeg: Alternative to lay-offs helps Habitat for Humanity


WINNIPEG — Lay-offs are difficult any time of the year, but when it happens over the holidays, the financial strain is even more of a hit.

PTI Manitoba, a company that manufactures transformers, has found a unique alternative to help people get through the holidays.

“I can’t see it in my heart to give people a tougher time at Christmas,” George Partyka, CEO of PTI Transformers,  said.

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Partyka aquired the Winnipeg operation in November 2015, formerly owned by CG Power Systems Canada.

The transition at the company led to a temporary slow-down in orders and PTI Manitoba was looking at laying off 25 people.

Roy Leslie, the staff representative for United Steel Worker, remembers walking into a meeting when Partyka pitched an unexpected offer for the employees.

“You feel this sad emotion because you know you have to deal with people who are going to be out of work for a while and then they start to talk about an option to assist these people through the Christmas and New Year’s season.”

“Now my ears are perked I want to know what this is.”

PTI gave all 25 employees the option of staying on the payroll, complete with all their benefits, but applying their skills to help out Habitat for Humanity.

READ MORE: Better Winnipeg: Habitat for Humanity ‘Women Build’ a home for deserving family

“We thought this would be a nice way of trying to help the community at large and still trying to make something bad into something good I guess,” Partyka said.

“This is the first time in our experience where a business has said, rather than lay staff off we will send them to you to work,” Sandy Hopkins,CEO of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba. said.

“It’s a heart warming piece.”

Working full-time helping Habitat for Humanity, the PTI employees are working on houses for partner families, helping with the Habitat Handyman program and building staircases and sheds in preparation for the 2017 Carter Work Project.

Next July, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter will be in Winnipeg for a massive building blitz in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

READ MORE: Former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, helping build homes in Winnipeg this summer

“We have 22 experienced, hard-working individuals who are putting in a full-day of work for us 5 days a week. It’s phenomenal,” Hopkins said.

With three children at home, and unexpected dental bills, the prospect of being laid-off with no health benefits was a concern for Alex Kacharovsky.

“It was a surprise for me and my family,” Kacharovsky said.

But even more than that, he couldn’t imagine not having a job to go to.

“My life I always work. I don’t know what it means not to work,” he said

“We thought this would be a nice way of trying to help the community at large and still trying to make something bad into something good I guess,” Partyka said.

“I felt it would be a good show of faith for what we do here and what we’re trying to be.”

All but two employees took the offer to work temporarily at Habitat for Humanity from November through mid-January.

Better Winnipeg is a series of stories by Global News that highlights people, events and organizations that make Winnipeg a better place to live. Send your story ideas to

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