Edmonton prepares to lay off 400 staff in response to new COVID-19 restrictions

The City of Edmonton may lay off 400 employees in response to new COVID-19 pandemic restrictions announced by the province Tuesday.

Majority of temporary layoffs will be from closed recreation facilities

Of the 2,600 city staff laid off temporarily this year before of COVID-19, 1,600 returned to work since May. (Ariel Fournier/CBC News)

The City of Edmonton may lay off 400 employees in response to new COVID-19 pandemic restrictions announced by the province Tuesday, a city spokesperson says. 

The number is an estimate and the layoffs would be temporary, communications spokesperson Melissa Lovatt told CBC News on Wednesday.

The majority of staff laid off would be those working at recreation facilities.

City managers have yet to determine how many workers will be laid off and from where, and need to evaluate areas that still require staff, such as maintenance, Lovatt said.

New restrictions announced by Premier Jason Kenney include closing all sports facilities, which would include city-run recreation centres and pools.

The measures go into effect on Sunday. 

They will be in effect for at least four weeks.

The measures force the closure of horse tracks, racing centres, bowling alleys, gyms, indoor rinks and arenas, camps, museums, galleries, water and amusement parks. 

The city owns and operates 22 recreation facilities, including seniors centres, 22 arenas and the City Arts Centre. It also runs four golf courses, The Edmonton Valley Zoo, The Muttart, John Janzen Nature Centre and the John Walter Museum. 

On Wednesday, the city announced outdoor ice surfaces at Victoria Park Skating Oval and IceWay, The Meadows Community Recreation Centre and the Rundle Park IceWay will remain open with new safety measures in place.

Cross-country skiing trails, walking trails and toboggan hills remain open with physical distancing and social gathering restrictions in place, the city said. 

The potential city layoffs are in addition to about 80 city workers let go temporarily after partial measures announced by the province Nov. 24.

Many of the 400 employees facing the newest layoffs were temporarily let go in the spring. 

The city has laid off 2,600 positions since the spring, but about 1,600 have since returned to work.

Many staff laid off earlier were working at sports facilities or in recreational programming.

Edmonton Transit Services were laid off as well, when buses and LRT trains were on reduced schedules.

The city employs the equivalent of 10,718 full-time positions.