Coronavirus: City of Winnipeg staff temporarily laid off after redeployment efforts fall through

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.

Read more: Hundreds of City of Winnipeg employees face temporary layoffs under coronavirus closures

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.

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“We’re trying to do what we can on a number of fronts to provide that support and assistance to Manitoba Health.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Winnipeg mayor urges residents to ‘stay home’ as province records 270 new cases' Coronavirus: Winnipeg mayor urges residents to ‘stay home’ as province records 270 new cases

Coronavirus: Winnipeg mayor urges residents to ‘stay home’ as province records 270 new cases – Nov 17, 2020

Bowman said the city’s talks with the province are continuing.

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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.

Read more: Grades 7-12 in Manitoba will move to remote learning after holiday break

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.

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The measures have since been put into place province-wide and are scheduled to remain in effect until at least Dec. 11.

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Winnipeg’s mayor on Level Red restrictions – Nov 13, 2020

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.

Read more: 14 more Manitobans fall to coronavirus, 277 new cases reported Wednesday

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.

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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:

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. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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