1,200 City of Calgary employees face temporary layoffs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary announces layoffs in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic'
City of Calgary announces layoffs in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic
The City of Calgary has announced it will lay off some of its staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s Gil Tucker with more. – Mar 30, 2020

Over a thousand employees working for the City of Calgary have been issued temporary layoffs as a part of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Calgary revealed on Monday that staffers would be facing layoffs, but weren’t able to divulge exactly how many people would be impacted.

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In a Tuesday news release, the city confirmed 1,200 people would be losing their jobs, saying the layoffs would affect employees such as swim instructors, arena and athletic park staff and aquatics and fitness staff.

The layoffs come as city officials are forced close recreation facilities and programs in response to the novel coronavirus and new social distancing regulations.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Personal care businesses, outdoor sport facilities ordered to close in Calgary

“Taking these steps allows impacted employees to apply for supports made available by the Government of Alberta and Government of Canada during this difficult time,” city manager David Duckworth said in a news release.

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“This is not an action we wanted to take but one we needed to, as the effects of COVID-19 continue to have significant impacts on citizens, city services and our employees.”

Danica Derksen, who worked as a part-time swimming instructor with the City of Calgary, said she’d been waiting anxiously for two weeks to find out if she’d have a job to go back to.

“It was really frustrating, because the recreation centres closed and they just kind of told us a quick ‘Hey, don’t come to your shift,’ Derksen said.

“We received no communication from anybody,” Derksen said, including supervisors or city staff.

Derksen said, as a university student, losing her job will hit her hard.

“That was my only source of income, so I really relied on it.”

Derksen is one of almost 400 pf the laid-off city employees represented by CUPE Local 37.

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Local 37 president Cyril Wilson said while some of his members are worried the temporary layoffs could be permanent. Unionized employees are at an advantage.

“Our collective agreement gives them recall rights for up to 12 months,” Wilson said.

“Non-unionized, they don’t have a contract,” Wilson added.

The city said it is working with impacted employees to ensure they are “treated with dignity and respect” while adhering to relevant collective agreements.

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“I look forward to the time when we are able to reopen our facilities and restore impacted services, so we can bring our valued employees back to work,” Duckworth added.

As of Monday, the province said Alberta had 690 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 422 confirmed cases in the Calgary Zone.

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