Saskatchewan’s SGI issues temporary layoffs amid coronavirus pandemic

Saskatchewan Government Insurance said while the majority of their staff continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic, a small number have been laid off. File / Global News

A small group of employees at Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) have been issued temporary layoff notices.

The layoffs come in the wake of coronavirus pandemic creating uncertainty in the workforce.

In a statement issued by chief human resource officer Tamara Erhardt, SGI said more than 2,000 employees continue to work at this time, either remotely or at an SGI location.

READ MORE: Nearly 21K jobs lost in Saskatchewan in March due to COVID-19: Statistics Canada

“However, there is a very small group – fewer than 25 employees at this time – that no longer have work, cannot be redeployed or that are unable to work (for various reasons),” the statement said.

Affected employees have been notified, and will remain in their roles with full pay for the coming 30 days in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

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The union representing SGI employees is disappointed by the move, but said recalls will be made once COVID-19 is under control and workplaces are deemed safe again.

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Leaked SHA document shows worst-case scenario outcome of coronavirus in Sask – Mar 24, 2020

“For the people affected, it’s not good news,” said COPE Local 397 president Kim Wilson. “But they will be called back to work, and they will receive benefits which is really important during these times.”

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

Wilson also said that although the number is small for now, she is worried about the possibility of more temporary layoffs in the near future.

“Nothing has been confirmed, but I do have some fears that we may have a few more layoffs,” Wilson said. “But I don’t think that we will be hit really hard. I think that for most of the jobs, working from home is going well.

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“And we’re going to fight to bring our members back as soon as possible. But we’re going to make sure that when we do bring them back, that they will be brought back to a safe environment.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Premier Scott Moe to address province in live televised speech

The safety of SGI employees and citizens is of particular concern for Wilson, with the Crown having resumed Class 1 and 3 road tests for semi drivers on April 20.

Wilson is worried SGI will also resume Class 5 road tests before it is safe to do so.

“I don’t see how they can do it, but I believe it is going to happen and that is a big concern,” she said.

“There’s just no way I can see it being  physically safe for anybody.”

According to SGI, options for people who require other classes of driver’s licence to work in essential fields are being considered. However, no decisions have been made at this time.

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Coronavirus around the world: April 22, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers 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. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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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