Edmonton

Aurora Cannabis laying off 214 workers, chief science officer to retire

Aurora Cannabis says it is laying off 214 workers and its chief science officer is retiring, the latest of a series of cuts to hit the Edmonton-based cannabis company.

Operations at flagship greenhouse south of Edmonton will be reduced by 75 per cent

Aurora Cannabis says it is laying off 214 workers and its chief science officer is retiring, the latest of a series of moves affecting the Edmonton-based cannabis company. (Julien Lecacheur)

Aurora Cannabis says it is laying off 214 workers and its chief science officer is retiring, the latest of a series of cuts to hit the Edmonton-based cannabis company.

Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler said in addition to the layoffs, operations at the company's Aurora Sky facilities — the company's flagship marijuana greenhouse south of Edmonton — will be reduced by 75 per cent.

Lefler said reducing capacity will help the company focus on its "premium flower product" at the site, a 800,000-square-foot facility near the Edmonton International Airport. 

The company previously announced it would pause operations at its Aurora Sun facility in Medicine Hat, with the shutdown affecting 30 workers.

In a statement, company officials the move will allow the company to invest in the international medical market, which is exhibiting "solid growth.

"In November, we closed our Aurora Sun facility and are now scaling back production at Aurora Sky to 25 per cent of its previous capacity," reads the statement. 

"At this level of production, we intend to transform the Sky facility into a high-value cultivation centre for our premium strains and, in turn, better align production with current demand for premium flower."

Chief science officer Jonathan Page will be retiring and will assume an advisory role to help with the transition.

Lefler confirmed Sky facility would be wound down on Dec. 18.

Miguel Martin, who was named the new CEO in September, said the moves will help the company.

"This is a difficult decision but one we must make for the health of our entire business," Martin said in a statement.

The move is part of the company's work to evolve its operations network with sales trends and help its ability to meet the evolving needs of the consumer, he added.

"The operational excellence of Aurora Sky is core to our strategy and growth ambition, which includes a greater focus on delivering high quality, premium products and innovation led by deeper plant science and genetics expertise," Martin said.

This month's job cuts are the latest to hit the company.

In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.

The Edmonton-based cannabis company reported that it incurred $3.3 billion in losses in its 2020 fiscal year, including $1.86 billion in its latest quarter due to large impairment charges.

With files from CBC News

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