Sask. Polytech to lay off staff, suspend multiple programs due to COVID-19 pandemic

A total of 37 people will be laid off across Saskatchewan. The addictions counselling, cytotechnology and dental assisting programs will also be suspended.

37 staff to be laid off, addictions counselling, cytotechnology, dental assisting programs suspended

The Saskatchewan Polytechnic sign
A letter from a Saskatchewan Polytechnic says it has had to make layoffs and suspend programs to cope with the financial problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

A letter sent to CBC News says Saskatchewan Polytechnic will be cutting costs, including layoffs and the suspension of several programs, as it pushes through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 37 people will be laid off from within the post-secondary institutions' facilities across Saskatchewan. The addictions counselling, cytotechnology and dental assisting programs will also be suspended.

"Each program has its own unique reasons for why we made this decision to suspend," the letter from Sandra Blevins, the dean of the school of nursing and health sciences said.

"We are now focused on communicating with the students to ensure they understand their options for studying at Sask. Polytechnic." 

The letter said laid-off employees will be working with the Sask. Polytechnic Faculty Association and the Saskatchewan General and Government Employees Union (SGEU) and the institution's human resources staff to "explore options." 

An SGEU spokesperson said the union is seriously concerned about the layoffs and would be consulting its membership over the weekend about the matter.

Blevins' letter said planned spending on non-salary costs related to travel, printing, lab supplies for the suspended programs, as well as professional development and advanced study support was reduced.

The letter said Sask. Polytechnic would continue to review its staffing levels. Leaders within the institution are now focusing on finalizing requirements and safety plans for labs, the letter said.

Pandemic-caused changes

A statement from Sask. Polytech said the COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest disruption the post-secondary education sector had ever seen.

"The suspension of the majority of on-campus operations has resulted in significant reductions or stoppages of work in some areas, including work that cannot be done remotely," the statement said. 

"Sask. Polytech is preparing for a decline in enrolment and an anticipated revenue shortfall."

The statement confirmed some programs would be suspended or deferred for the upcoming fall semester. It also said some full-time and part-time employees would receive temporary or permanent layoff notices in the coming weeks. 

In its statement, Sask. Polytech said it would not share affected positions, departments or programs that would be impacted and it would not be providing further comment on the matter.


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