The City of Barrie has temporarily laid off 55 additional employees and has reduced the work week to four days for many municipal workers, as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the local and provincial economy.
“These temporary layoffs are necessary due to the extended cancellation of several non-essential city services and the resulting financial impact,” Barrie, Ont., officials say.
On Friday, the city temporarily laid off 25 temporary positions, five permanent part-time workers and 25 permanent full-time employees.
To date, the City of Barrie has laid off more than 520 employees as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“These are incredibly tough decisions that we are being forced to make during unprecedented times,” Michael Prowse, Barrie’s CAO, said in a statement.
“We’ve had to drastically change the way we operate in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
In addition to the 55 layoffs, the city has also re-deployed 17 of its workers from non-essential areas to essential ones.
“We are in a very difficult financial situation without the ability for federal and provincial financial programs and the requirement for municipalities to balance our books each fiscal year,” Prowse said.
This past month, the City of Barrie lost about $1.7 million in revenue. It’s also projecting a reduction in its cash flow of $65 million by the end of the year.
Officials say the city has two revenue sources — property taxes and user fees for municipal services, including recreation centres, transit and parking. The city has been offering free transit since March 20 and hasn’t been enforcing paid parking.
Its community centres have also been closed since March 13 and will not open until at least June 30.
“The city’s budget, including employee salaries, is based in part on these user fees,” officials say.
The city says it will continue to provide all municipal essential services.
To date, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported 45 COVID-19 cases in Barrie.