Guardian, Journal Pioneer merge as Saltwire temporarily lays off about 40% of staff
'Nearly half our total company revenue has evaporated in less than a week.'
SaltWire Network has announced temporary layoffs and changes to its operations because of COVID-19.
The company owns several newspapers across Atlantic Canada including the Guardian based in Charlottetown and Journal Pioneer based in Summerside.
In a release, the company said effective immediately about 40 per cent of its staff in the region is being temporarily laid off for up to 12 weeks.
In P.E.I., 31 people received temporary layoff notices. The majority were graphic artists and people building weekly publications, according to the company. Six journalists were laid off.
SaltWire said employees will still have access to their medical benefits. Remaining staff that earn over a certain amount will have a reduced work week.
SaltWire said it will combine the Guardian and Journal Pioneer newspapers into one publication during this period. All subscribers across P.E.I. will receive the Guardian.
"Like many other businesses, we are faced with the difficult reality of making impossible decisions right now," said the company's president and CEO Mark Lever in a written release.
"This is not what we want to do, but it's what we must do to find a sustainable way forward during this very uncertain time."
Lever said because of COVID-19, the company has been hit hard financially.
"Nearly half our total company revenue has evaporated in less than a week."
The company is also temporarily suspending the production of all weekly publications across Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. It will continue producing the Chronicle Herald, the Cape Breton Post, the Guardian and the Telegram.
SaltWire said staff members were made aware of the changes Tuesday.
It said it hopes to be able to return to normal operations as soon as possible. The company is currently planning for the changes to remain in place until approximately June 15.