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Another city prepares for COVID financial fallout. Guelph lays off 601 part-time and seasonal employees

Mayor says the employees are valued but right now the city has to be 'respectful of the financial realities of the municipality'
20160201 Guelph City Hall Sign KA
GuelphToday file photo

The City of Guelph has announced it is laying off 601 casual, part-time employees.

"In response to extended closures and the suspension of non-essential services, the City of Guelph has made the difficult decision to temporarily lay off 601 casual, part-time employees," said a city news release late Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Cam Guthrie said the move is one of the harsh realities the city finds itself in.

"These are the difficult decisions the municipality along with all others are facing right now," Guthrie said in an interview.

He said the employees are valued and he "hopes to see them back once this crisis is past us," but right now the city has to be "respectful of the financial realities of the municipality."

See: City of Orillia laying off staff in wake of pandemic

BayToday reached out to North Bay mayor Al McDonald for comment on local plans but received no response.

The Guelph layoffs affect employees who deliver recreation programs, school crossing guards, some library workers, and others. The move did not require council approval due to the recently implemented move that allows the city CAO to make financial decisions brought about by COVID-19 crisis.

Guthrie said "all options are on the table," but at this time no full-time layoffs are being announced.

"All options are on the table right now, that includes any decision that is going to need to be made to look out for the financial realities of both the running of the municipality versus the financial realities of the citizens, the businesses and the economy within the city that are struggling at this time too.

"We're going to have to be looking at all options, but there is no decision made today."

CAO Scott Stewart said he didn't have a hard figure on how much money the move would save because there are a lot of variables, most notably how long the situation lasts.

"Quite honestly, there's a lot of other things we're going to have to look at as this thing continues," Stewart said.

The city said it is supporting staff affected by the temporary layoffs, ensuring they have the resources they need to access government support services including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and employment insurance benefits.