Penticton mayor John Vassilaki said “These are unprecedented circumstances, a time when we must think deeply about the roles and impacts of COVID-19 on our incredible City staff” in light of 20 per cent of city staff being laid off due to COVID-19. (File photo)

City of Penticton lays off 20 per cent of remaining staff

The “phased workforce reduction” plan is part of the City’s response to COVID-19

The City of Penticton today temporarily laid off approximately 20 per cent of remaining staff due to the COVID-19 crisis.

They say the decision was made to manage its financial situation through a phased reduction of its union, exempt and managerial workforce.

The City previously laid off a number of employees mid March.

READ MORE: 53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

“This difficult announcement follows initial steps taken in mid March to adjust the City’s workforce in response to provincial health orders requiring local governments to protect their residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 by closing all public facilities,” said Penticton city manager, Donny van Dyk.

“The impact of those orders was immediate and deep reaching to several city departments, particularly those providing daily services and programs at facilities now closed to the public. Additional measures, including extending options for voluntary temporary layoffs, were put forth one week later, followed by today’s announcement which introduces workforce reductions across every department.”

In addition to introducing temporary layoffs, the City plans on lowering spending in other areas by cancelling or deferring projects, reducing certain non-essential service levels, limiting the use of consultants and reducing non-essential travel and training.

“It goes without saying, the last few weeks have been a very difficult time as we grappled with the rapid decrease in the services we’re able to offer residents and the corresponding drop in revenues from those services. By enacting these temporary measures now, it’s my hope we’ll emerge from this challenging period with the financial health that allows us to resume normal operations in a quick and efficient way,” said van Dyk.

City council and senior management say the process behind today’s layoffs were the product of “considerable discussion and reflection.”

“These are unprecedented circumstances, a time when we must think deeply about the roles and impacts of COVID-19 on our incredible City staff, review our approach to managing the business and operations of the City throughout this crisis, and remain acutely aware and responsive to the highly disruptive outcome COVID-19 is having on our residents, our businesses and our way of life,” said Penticton mayor, John Vassilaki.

READ MORE: COVID-19: City of Penticton facilities close, meetings cancelled

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