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1,200 part-time Hamilton city employees now on hiatus, leaf and yard waste collection to resume

A number of changes to city services were announced on Friday, as part of a continued response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of changes to city services were announced on Friday, as part of a continued response to the coronavirus pandemic. Nick Westoll/Global News

It’s not officially being called a layoff, but Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says the scheduling of 1,200 non-essential, part-time employees is being discontinued until further notice.

Eisenberger made the announcement as part of an Emergency Operations Centre update on Friday afternoon.

READ MORE: Hamilton faces $23M deficit due to COVID-19 pandemic: report

He says the change will save the city $250,000 per week, adding that affected employees have all been notified and will be eligible for financial assistance that the federal government has put forward.

The mayor describes it as a “very difficult decision to make,” but adds that “the reality is we have nothing for them to do at the moment.”

Hamilton McDonald’s employee charged with faking COVID-19 diagnosis
Hamilton McDonald’s employee charged with faking COVID-19 diagnosis

Affected employees include school crossing guards, some recreation centre employees and those who supervise children’s activities in city parks.

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The cost-saving measure comes two days after a report was presented to councillors by General Manager of FInance Mike Zegarac, suggesting that the city faces a $22.9 million deficit based on projections to the end of May as a result of COVID-19.

READ MORE: City of Hamilton, waste collectors find common ground

The mayor announced during Friday’s update that a reduced form of leaf and yard waste collection will resume on Monday.

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The collection of leaf and yard waste was temporarily discontinued several weeks ago because of concerns about staffing levels with the waste management division, but Eisenberger says the city has decided there’s “an ability to collect some based on the resources we have” and will resume offering the service to residents every second week.

Starting April 20, yard waste will be collected from homes in Glanbrook, Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough and Stoney Creek.

The following week, beginning April 27, it will be collected from homes across Hamilton Mountain and the lower city.

He stresses that it will not happen “on a given day, it will be sometime when they can get to it, but it will happen.” Eisenberger acknowledges “we’ve had many calls on this issue.”

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Meanwhile, Victoria Day fireworks at Dundas Driving Park have officially been cancelled for 2020.

Mayor Eisenberger also says that a state of emergency has now officially been declared in Hamilton to allow for the redeployment of staff, if necessary.

Eisenberger stresses that the city has redeployed staff with the cooperation of its unions during the pandemic.

He describes the emergency order as a “technical matter” should the city run into difficulties, that would give it “the overriding authority to make the changes as required.”