The City of Winnipeg says efforts to redeploy hundreds of city workers slated for temporary layoffs through the latest COVID-19 lockdown, have so far failed.
Last week, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the city was working with their union and the Manitoba government to see if any of the affected workers could be hired on by the province to help in the fight against COVID-19, but on Wednesday he said no agreement has been made yet.
That means 600 city employees were given a temporary pink slip as of Sunday.
“It’s clear to Winnipeggers and Manitobans they need some help,” Bowman said of provincial efforts against the virus.
“We’re trying to do what we can on a number of fronts to provide that support and assistance to Manitoba Health.”
Bowman said the city’s talks with the province are continuing.
The affected workers are from the city’s community services department who have been without work since provincial COVID-19 health orders forced the closure of city-owned and operated recreation facilities, gyms, indoor pools, arenas and libraries.
Health officials moved the Metro Winnipeg area into the red, or critical, level on the province’s pandemic response system at the beginning of November in an attempt to curb rising rates of COVID-19 in the region.
The measures have since been put into place province-wide and are scheduled to remain in effect until at least Dec. 11.
When the city was forced to lay off employees during COVID-19 restrictions in the spring, some workers were redeployed to work at Winnipeg Harvest and other non-government organizations.
The city has said those who’ve been temporary laid off this time around will will have access to mental health supports, and will continue to be included in communications from their employer.
The city also says it has registered a Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan with the Government of Canada, which will provide a top-up to 75 per cent of their regular gross weekly salary, for a one-month period, for those receiving Employment Insurance benefits during the layoffs.
The city said last week all the employees will be welcomed back to work once it’s safe to reopen city facilities.
— With files from Kevin Hirschfield
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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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. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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