Mississauga to temporarily lay off about 2,000 employees due to COVID-19 pandemic

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The City of Mississauga has announced plans to temporarily lay off approximately 2,000 staff members amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The lay-offs are a response to the extended closure of city facilities, public counters and programs. 

"The City of Mississauga has made the difficult decision to temporarily lay off approximately 2,000 part-time employees in non-essential services who work at these facilities effective April 17, 2020," the city said in a statement. 

The city says that while staff members who are not currently working were being compensated when facilities were slated to reopen on April 5, it's no longer feasible to employ everyone indefinitely—especially since closures are expected to remain in place for several more weeks (or possibly months). 

"Given Ontario's State of Emergency has been extended and facilities will remain closed indefinitely, it is no longer financially viable for the city to maintain regular staffing levels," the city said. 

The city says the majority of laid-off employees work in community services, as community centres, libraries and cultural facilities will remain closed until further notice. 

"This is a very difficult decision and certainly not one that was taken lightly. The city is facing significant financial pressures as a result of this pandemic and we are taking action to respond to the facility closures and their impact on our operations. I understand the stress this decision will have on our employees," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. 

"We will continue to be in communication with those impacted and have extended our employee and family assistance program to all staff during this difficult time. As we move toward recovery, we look forward to getting back to business as usual as soon as possible. I think we are all eager to and see life go back to normal. The only way we get there and fight this virus is to follow the advice of our medical professionals and stay at home as much as possible." 

The city says many employees are expected to receive benefits through EI or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 

The city says it's currently awaiting approval from Service Canada to provide a 75 per cent top-up to employees who qualify to receive benefits through federal benefit programs.

"When we began to adjust our city services and programming to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, we hoped the shutdown would be short-lived. With the recent extension of the Provincial Emergency, it seems likely that our facilities will be closed for some time," said Janice Baker, Chief Administrative Officer and City Manager," in a statement.  

"The lay-offs are a direct result of city program cancellations and facility closures, not having work available for part-time employees during the shut-down of non-essential services, and the severe financial pressures we are seeing on our 2020 financial results. I am very much aware of the stress and anxiety that this news may cause our employees. This decision, in no way reflects the value and respect we have for our employees and the work they perform. As soon as we are able, we will be recalling our part-time staff back to work."

The city will continue to deliver essential services during the shutdown. 

Services that will remain available include Mississauga Fire and Emergency services, MiWay (transit), Works, Operations and Maintenance, 311 and dispatch, Parks and Forestry, Animal Services, security and regulatory services and more.

Cover photo courtesy of @idris.yyz

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