Guy Quenneville · CBC News · Posted: Apr 28, 2020 3:56 PM CT
The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon says it’s preparing to temporarily lay off an unspecified number of employees as operations continue to slow under the current restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
The union representing workers is warning the number of layoffs could be as high as 500.
Gord Hunchak, the university’s chief communications officer, said in a recent note to university employees that the number of people affected “has not been determined yet.”
Layoff periods could last as long as 12 weeks, he said.
“Start dates will vary, but temporary layoffs may start as early as May 4,” Hunchak said. “The number of temporary layoffs have not been determined yet as each unit will be responsible for determining their own numbers based on each unit’s specific circumstances.”
Bob Jones, second vice president for CUPE local 1975, which represents workers, said the union has been in talks with the university for the last two weeks and knew the news was coming.
“We’ve been told that the university could see up to 500 people laid off,” Jones said.
There will be financial support for the people laid off, Hunchak said.
“We will provide a ‘top-up’ to the current federal support program, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), to 85 per cent of pre-layoff regular earnings,” he said. “Employees who are temporarily laid off will continue to have full access to their benefits programs, as well as the university’s IT services, such as email and network access.”
The university is also reviewing what kind of work might resume under the terms of the provincial government’s plan to gradually revive parts of the economy.
Initial phases of that plan might allow some university activities to start again, “including some forms of research activities,” Hunchak said.
However, he noted, “the university is not planning large-scale reopening of full university operations within the next several weeks.”