City of Regina lays off 80% of casual staff amid COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Regina is laying off 360 of its casual employees and postponing the recall of 500 of its seasonal employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Files / Global News

The City of Regina has issued layoff notices to 360 casual employees and is postponing the recall of 500 seasonal employees as more and more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed.

“We recognize this will result in hardship,” city manager Chris Holden said.

The city is confident in the financial supports being established at higher levels of government, he said, and will work with its employees to access them.

“Obviously, it doesn’t make the decisions any easier,” Holden said. “These are uncertain times.”

As of Thursday, there were 28 cases of COVID-19 in Regina and 95 across the province.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 9 new COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan, total rises to 95

Approximately 80 per cent of the City of Regina’s 1,000 casual and seasonal staff are impacted by the cuts, effective March 31. Around 140 people who fill casual and seasonal roles that support essential operations will continue on.

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On March 17, Regina announced the closure of its community and recreation facilities, from leisure centres to libraries as well as the Regina Floral Conservatory. The city also pulled the plug on registered programming.

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In addition, recognizing and respecting social distancing and self-isolation is challenging the city to rethink the delivery of other non-critical services.

READ MORE: Regina takes action against COVID-19, closing all recreation facilities and libraries

Regina employs 1,800 people in term and permanent positions.

Some may be retrained and reassigned, Holden said, noting equipment operators may fall into this category. Those who work in roles related to park maintenance, winter maintenance and roadways could also see changes.

Holden said the city does not intend to lay off permanent staff.

“Our people are important,” Holden said, speaking of all employees. “They make a difference.”

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There is no guarantee that all of the employees being laid off will be re-hired, but Holden said he anticipates recalls will happen eventually.

“We’re hoping we can get back to business as usual,” Holden said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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