by Colin Smith
Town of Morinville staff are being hit by layoffs as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Measures announced in a median Apr.15 media release include temporary layoffs of 31 full-time and part-time staff, 40 tentative layoffs of casual staff, delaying seasonal hiring of 31 positions and a temporary ban on new hires.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Stephane LaBonne, scaling back the Town’s workforce during the crisis is a step to ensure its long-term sustainability.
“I want to be clear, the measures needing to be taken today are a direct reflection of the economic and public health realities of COVID-19, not a reflection of our employees or the valuable programs or services they deliver for the residents and businesses in Morinville each and every day,” said Labonne.
“Our facilities, programs and services are vital parts of the community and help make Morinville the great community it is. Everything that can be done will be done to support both those temporarily laid off, and our staff that remain. The remaining Town staff are overseeing our essential services, while also putting in place plans to get our community back to normal, whenever that will be.”
LaBonne said the layoffs will not affect road maintenance.
“All of the Town of Morinville’s core infrastructure will continue to be maintained as per our operating standards and approved service levels,” he said.
Mayor Barry Turner indicated the layoffs reflected a need to accept the fiscal realities and uncertain economics of the current situation.
“The Town of Morinville needs to take steps to ensure it is in a strong financial position to support our community in getting to the other side of this curve and the difficult work ahead in recovering from the medical, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Turner.
“This is undoubtedly one of my most difficult days as Mayor, as I know the impacts on many of our committed and passionate staff and their families will be difficult,” he said. “I have known some of our staff for over 24 years. Today is a hard day. I look forward to re-embracing our staff as soon as we can.”
Staffing levels will continue to be monitored and as the situation changes, staff will be recalled as necessary, the release stated.
The layoffs follow other measures taken by the Town of Morinville in response to the COVID-19 crisis. These including facility closures, program cancellations and reduced service levels.
Council has also sought to provide financial aid to residents and businesses by enabling them to defer property taxes and utility payments.
Municipalities are not currently eligible for the 75% Canada Wage Subsidy program.