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University of Saskatchewan temporarily lays off more than 300 employees

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents about 2,000 employees at the university and said between 200 and 250 of the layoffs are its members.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents about 2,000 employees at the university and said between 200 and 250 of the layoffs are its members. Brenden Purdy / Global News

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has temporarily laid off 315 employees over a span of 12 weeks.

“Prior to any decisions about temporary layoffs, we considered the possibility of redeployment to other work that is essential and can be done remotely,” read a statement emailed to Global News. “In most circumstances, employees who are temporarily laid off were able to use existing paid entitlements of vacation, banked overtime, or earned days off to maintain full pay levels for additional days or weeks. 

“Through the normal course of the year, all university units also adjust their staffing levels based on seasonal requirements, changing amounts of work available, and their respective budget situations, particularly in light of the current economic uncertainty due to COVID-19.”

Read more: Petition calls for reduced University of Saskatchewan tuition with classes online this fall

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The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1975 represents about 2,000 employees at the university and said its members account for between 200 and 250 of the layoffs.

The union’s acting president said the union is working closely with university administration to adjust to the pandemic and fewer people on campus.

“Through this process, we have strongly advocated for our members and the services we provide.  While we have no guarantees that staffing levels will return to normal when in-person classes return, we will continue to work with the university to ensure proper staffing levels to meet the needs of students,” Bob Jones wrote in a statement.

Read more: Upgrades planned for Saskatchewan universities, Moose Jaw Polytechnic

The Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) represents 1,300 employees at the university.

Its president added they’ve only seen around a dozen temporary layoffs, but have seen more than 30 permanent layoffs over the past two months.

“The workloads are going to be increasing if we have fewer members and they continue to provide the same services and programs,” Curtis Larson said.

Read more: Coronavirus: University of Saskatchewan sees increase in spring, summer course enrolments

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USask said between federal government programs and university top-ups, temporarily laid-off employees are earning 85 per cent of their regular earnings.

The university’s units will continue to monitor budgets and staff levels, but large-scale layoffs aren’t expected.

Unique driving simulator coming to University of Saskatchewan
Unique driving simulator coming to University of Saskatchewan

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

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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