Coronavirus: Peterborough-area municipalities yet to recall bulk of laid-off workforce

As a means of tightening the books and halting certain services, municipalities across Ontario have had to lay off part-time and seasonal staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of Peterborough temporarily laid off 321 part-time and five full-time staff in April and is expecting to take a revenue hit of nearly $7 million as a result of the current crisis.

“The city has offered opportunities for workers to move into other roles that have become available because of COVID, but that’s very limited,” said city communications manager Brendan Wedley.

Wedley couldn’t say whether any of the laid-off staff had been called back to work as of yet.

The city is in the planning stages for the summer months.

He stressed that local and provincial emergencies are still in place.

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“The province’s Stage 1 reopening is a very cautious and limited step towards reopening that requires restrictions in place for some activities to resume,” added Wedley. “The city is still planning for reopening and recovery, but dates aren’t set.”

The City of Kawartha Lakes laid off more than 200 part-time and seasonal staff and delayed the hiring of around 70 summer staff members.

As of this week, none of those employees have been called back to work.

“The province continues to announce additional business that can open, not just immediately but we’re looking into June to ramp up our service delivery and that’s going to require staff resources in the immediate term. So we’re looking at what those resources will be to meet those timelines,” said chief administrative officer Ron Taylor.

In Port Hope, with facilities closed, the municipality was unable to hire any summer staff.

“We have more than 50 part-time students lined up that we couldn’t get into the jobs,” said Mayor Bob Sanderson. “Those are the students that would be inside the recreation facilities as an example. We’re working on getting them back as soon as we can.”

“Let’s say you’re a lifeguard at a pool — you don’t have a job right now.”

As of Thursday, the Town of Cobourg hadn’t hired students for summer but was looking into it, especially for the marina, which is expected to open early next month.

“We’ve needed full-time, part-time and student help; we’ve needed all three for this to happen,” said Mayor John Henderson. “If you’re going to open a marina, you need the proper staff to run them.”

The marina will be undergoing upgrades over the next several weeks, including dock upgrades for flood mitigation and the installation of plexiglass in the main marina building to protect the staff during the pandemic.

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