Calgary Public Library to temporarily lay off 75 per cent of staff

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The Calgary Public Library is temporarily laying off 75 per cent of its workforce because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Libraries were among the city facilities ordered to close when Calgary declared a state of local emergency on March 15. A notice sent to library staff last week says the layoffs are necessary “due to the unpredictable nature of the current health crisis.”

CPL communications director Mary Kapusta said in an email to Postmedia that there were 753 library staff before the temporary layoffs, meaning upwards of 550 people are now out of work.

“Like everyone, we are unsure of timelines for reopening, but have every intention of returning to normal service levels,” Kapusta said.

The City of Calgary also announced 1,200 temporary layoffs of part-time and casual staff this week, mostly affecting recreation employees.

According to the memo sent to CPL workers, which was obtained by Postmedia, substitute employees and pages were temporarily laid off as of March 29, and other “identified” full-time, part-time and temporary staff will be let go as of April 12. Staff will be paid for their scheduled hours up to the date they’re out of work.

Library workers who are temporarily laid off will be able to access an Employment Insurance top-up from CPL for four months. EI benefits plus the top up will add up to 95 per cent of their salary. Staff will also keep their health benefits for up to three months.

On Monday, the Edmonton Public Library also announced they would lay off 75 per cent of its staff, totalling 489 employees.

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