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549 casino workers temporarily laid off in Regina, Moose Jaw in response to pandemic

SaskGaming closed its casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw at the end of gaming day March 17, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. File / Global News

SaskGaming has temporarily laid off 549 workers after shutting its casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw last week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In an email statement Friday, SaskGaming said many gaming floor, show lounge and back-of-house staff and management are no longer required.

“The corporation has made the difficult decision to temporarily lay off 549 permanent employees — 497 unionized and 52 non-unionized,” the statement read in part.

“All employees who have been laid off can return to their home position at the end of the temporary closure, allowing for job security and the ability to access government programs.”

READ MORE: Canadian unemployment could hit 15 per cent amid coronavirus pandemic, deficit to $113B

The temporary layoffs are effective April 3, 2020, and were made under the Public Emergency Provisions in the amended Saskatchewan Employment Act.

SaskGaming operates under the direction of Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC), the holding company for the province’s commercial Crown corporations.

In a news release Friday, the union representing casino workers in Saskatchewan said it was shocked to learn about the layoffs less than 24 hours before notices were given.

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

The Public Service Alliance of Canada – Prairies (PSAC) wants SaskGaming to rescind the layoffs and guarantee employees pay until such time the casinos are safe to reopen.

“So disappointing to see a Crown Corporation that treats its employees that way,” said Marianne Hladun, regional executive vice-president for the Prairies.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatoon businesses balance protecting employees’ health and staying open

Hladun said the layoffs come at a time when the federal government is providing wage subsidies and urging employers to keep works on payroll.

“Here we have a Crown Corporation, with public service employees, and they’re laying people off and putting them into the [employment insurance] system. That to me does not show good faith,” she said.
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“Let the system that the government is putting in place be for those with no other options.”

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.

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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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