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Coronavirus: City of Kawartha Lakes issues more than 200 layoff notices, delays summer hiring

Coronavirus: City of Kawartha Lakes issues more than 200 layoff notices, delays summer hiring
The City of Kawartha Lakes has issued layoff notices to part-time staff as well as postponing any seasonal summer positions. Mark Giunta reports.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many municipalities into a balancing act as the ongoing health crisis continues to impact the economy.

In the City of Kawartha Lakes, which relies heavily on seasonal tourism, layoff notices have been handed out to more than 200 part-time, temporary, contract and seasonal staff.

“We have an additional 70 seasonal and summer student positions that have been put on hold or suspended pending what we do with our services,” chief administrative officer Ron Taylor told reporters during a media teleconference Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, Ont. creating 103 beds for potential patient surge

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“There’s over 600 employees that are doing continued and immediate front-line critical service.  We’re looking at redeployment for staff as well to help support those front-line staff members,” Taylor said.

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Taylor added that long-term planning can’t be done as the situation continues to evolve at all levels of government.

One thing that will be done in the short term is the creation of an economic recovery task force, which will be discussed further at a virtual council meeting on April 28.

“As the numbers (of COVID-19 cases) continue to flatten, let’s start to plan where we go from here, but it won’t happen overnight,” said Mayor Andy Letham. “I acknowledge for some businesses, it won’t work out and it’s unfortunate.

“The best thing we can do for the economy right now is knock down this virus. We can’t open up things up to save the economy while it’s still going through the community. We need to get on top of this virus, and I think we are.”

READ MORE: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge health unit now sending coronavirus test swabs to lab in Kingston

What the task force will look like and how many people will be on it wasn’t known as of the Tuesday teleconference.

Letham said he and municipal councillors will help put the task force together after it’s approved on April 28.

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To help residents and businesses, the municipality deferred property taxes for 60 days.

The deadline for a forthcoming property tax instalment, which was due on April 29, is now extended to June 27.

“We remain in good shape (financially) to weather this for the next month or two,” added Taylor. “We’re certainly looking at strategies to contain spending at the same time. At this point, based on our internal audit, we’re in good shape.”

Taylor said the municipality will also work with the new task force on its own recovery post-pandemic.

“We have essential services to maintain, too, but the non-essential services we can’t deliver,” said Letham. “We can’t start opening up non-essential services while the province says not to.”

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