682 Target employees to lose jobs in Manitoba

Canada's leading private sector union says Target's failure in Canada is a direct result of "bully tactics".

Union accuses Target of 'bullying' its way into Canadian market

Having lost nearly $1 billion in its first year in Canada, and facing more multi-million dollar losses, Target announced on Thursday it would discontinue its operations in Canada and close all its 133 stores across the country. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Almost 700 employees between the Winnipeg and Brandon Target locations will lose their jobs after the American retailer announced Thursday it would be pulling out of the Canadian market.

Target’s exodus from Canada marks one of the largest mass layoffs in Manitoba’s recent history.

A Thompson nickel smelter and refinery slashed 500 jobs in 2010. Convergys Corp., a Cincinnati-based call centre that used to have an operation in Winnipeg, laid off 500 employees in 2009 in Winnipeg.

Philippe Cyrrenne, professor of economics at the University of Winnipeg, said mass layoffs like these are rare.

"Target came in big and they left big," said Cyrrenne.

He said the impact of the layoffs on Manitoba’s economy won’t be felt immediately, because Target employees receive a 16-week severance package.

The real short-term challenge will fall on the shoulders of the hundreds of employees who will be competing for fewer, similar retail jobs.

"It will be difficult at the outset,” said Cyrrenne. “They all have similar skills so it could take a while. The best case scenario is for a larger retailer to come in."

Cyrrenne said U.S. chains will be studying Target’s failure to adapt to the Canadian market very closely before planting roots in Canada. Whether Target employees in Manitoba will rebound anytime soon isn’t yet clear, he said.

Target bullied way into Canada, says union

"It's a case of another trans-national corporation strong arming its way into Canada, with, you know, little regard for the impact it would have on workers lives, and the lives of their families and their community,” said Derek Johnstone, Ontario director for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

“At the end of the day, these are our neighbours."

Johnstone said 20,000 workers lost their jobs when Target took over Zellers two years ago.

Johnstone said the previous Zellers employees were disrespected by American retailer when management asked to them to re-apply for their jobs.

He said 17,600 Target employees will be out of a job again.

"Where's the Harper government when this happens again? Where's the federal government when this happens again? They are nowhere to be heard,” said Johnstone. “Not only are they not doing anything on this, they are not commenting on this, reassuring the [17,600] families who have been impacted by this."

Johnstone said the closure of Target stores in Canada will have a huge impact on the economy.

He said the federal government needs to put measures in place to prevent something similar from happening again.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.