THUNDER BAY – It is a move union officials said was going to happen, and the City of Thunder Bay said was being looked at. Thunder Bay has laid off one-third of its workforce.
“This is regrettable but necessary,” said City Manager Norm Gale. “Notifications of the temporary shortages of work and layoffs allows employees to apply for supports available through the Government of Canada and other supports that may be available to them. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all sectors in all communities. We will work with union leadership and our employees in accordance with applicable collective agreements and legislation.”
Facility closures and program suspensions have resulted in a temporary reduction in the City of Thunder Bay’s workforce by about one-third.
This includes temporary layoffs of up to 170 employees whose work does not allow them to work from home and a temporary shortage of work for about 620 part-time, casual and temporary employees who have not had work to do since facilities were closed and programs suspended.
The closures and suspensions were in accordance with the Provincial Declaration of Emergency that has now been extended to April 13, guided by the order to close non-essential businesses and to protect the safety of our employees. Areas where staff are impacted include recreation, child care, crossing guard services and some clerical and outside services.
Council was advised of the shortage of work and layoffs in a closed session Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, April 2. The City has communicated with union leaders. We are following up with employees over the next week to confirm individual circumstances and impacts.
“While their work has been deemed non-essential at this time, these employees are valued and provide dedicated service to the people of Thunder Bay,” he said. “People rely on and need these services. I look forward to the day we are able to bring our employees back to reopen our facilities, programs, and services. I am also grateful to the employees who continue to work to provide essential services for our residents or who are continuing the business of the Corporation by working from home. I know there is uncertainty and angst. I appreciate the service of our great City employees, no matter what area one works in.”
In full operation, the City of Thunder Bay has about 2,300 employees and of those about 1,300 are full time.
Decisions on programs and services are being made on a daily basis.