Edmonton Catholic School Division announces more temporary staff layoffs amid COVID-19 pandemic

The spread of the coronavirus has resulted in the closure of schools across the province. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

The Edmonton Catholic School Division has announced more staff layoffs due to provincial education funding changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media release Thursday morning, the ECSD said it will begin informing 67 part-time light duty custodians that they will be temporarily laid off as of May 30.

These layoffs are in addition to layoffs announced for 708 staff members earlier this month. The district said all of the layoffs are a result of funding changes made by Alberta Education after in-person classes were cancelled in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“It is disappointing that these additional layoffs are required but the reality is that we do not know how long students will be learning remotely,” Edmonton Catholic Schools superintendent Robert Martin said in a media release.

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“Light duty custodians are an important part of our school division and we value their commitment to maintaining safe and clean schools and sites.”

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The affected staff members are part of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees union and require 30-day layoff notice, the school board said.

The ECSD said it will continue health benefits for the 67 staff members through to the end of August. Their access to email will be maintained, as well their support from the Employee and Family Assistance Program, the school board said.

“The provincial government’s reduction to funding has impacted so many employees and their families,” said Laura Thibert, chair of Edmonton Catholic Schools. “Our board will not rest until Alberta Education restores the $5.7 million in funding to our division once classes resume.”

At the end of March, the UCP announced it was redirecting $128 million in funding initially slotted for K-12 schools in the province into Alberta’s COVID-19 response.

Click to play video: 'Alberta cuts $128M in K-12 education funding to boost COVID-19 response'
Alberta cuts $128M in K-12 education funding to boost COVID-19 response

At the time, the education minister said the funding changes were temporary. The decision on what positions will be laid off or cut will be made by individual schools, said Colin Aitchison, the press secretary for the office of the minister of education.

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Aitchison said the funding decision was not taken lightly.

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