(BLACK PRESS file photo)

(BLACK PRESS file photo)

Town of Blackfalds announces layoffs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Over 25 staff are being laid off or their contract terminated early

The Town of Blackfalds’ administration had to make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off staff due to a shortage of work during this unprecedented pandemic. Positions including full-time, part-time, contract, and casual staff whose hours are typically scheduled on a weekly, monthly or as needed basis, were cut as a result of facility closures. Town facilities were closed on March 16 and closures were recently extended from April 15 to May 15.

“We are doing everything we can to support our employees. They will be provided with the necessary paperwork to guide them in how to apply for Employment Insurance (EI),” explained Human Resource Officer Lisa Murray. “Layoffs are an important step to enable staff, without any scheduled hours, the ability to access options such as EI benefits as soon as possible.” She further reiterated that “once the curve of the pandemic has leveled off, we will reassess the situation in May and follow the recall process as per the Collective Agreement.”

Over 25 staff are being laid off or their contract terminated early, many of who work in the Community Services department. “While we tried our best to keep everyone working during this time; the fact that we had to extend facility closures into May, there was simply not enough work,” stated Sean Barnes, Director of Community Services. “This decision has been tough on all of us, especially the staff who are directly affected and the managers who had to deliver the bad news.”

Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson wants to assure affected staff that “we recognize that this will result in hardship and we are ensuring that those affected are given the tools and guidance to access the financial supports that have been announced by both the federal and provincial governments.”

The Town has several employees self-isolating due to travel or illness as recommended by Alberta Health Services. Those essential positions needed to continue to deliver the Town’s services during this pandemic are set up to work from home.

-Submitted by the Town of Blackfalds