July 8, 2020

Winnipeg
27° C, Fair

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Winnipeg School Division issues 330 layoff notices

JOHN WOODS / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>The Winnipeg School Division confirmed Tuesday a total of 330 staff members have received notices about their employment status.</p></p>

JOHN WOODS / FREE PRESS FILES

The Winnipeg School Division confirmed Tuesday a total of 330 staff members have received notices about their employment status.

The Free Press has made this story available free of charge so everyone can access trusted information on the coronavirus.

Support this work and subscribe today

Shifting workloads during class suspensions have prompted the province’s largest school division to announce upwards of 300 temporary layoffs.

The Winnipeg School Division confirmed Tuesday a total of 330 staff members — of its standard school year workforce of 6,000 — have received notices about their employment status.

Starting next month, 279 term educational assistants, infant lab assistants and crossing guards will be out of work, as will 51 bus drivers who are currently employed by the division.

"Extra hours" positions, including breakfast program and bus supervisors, have also been terminated while students study from home. These roles are often filled by educational assistants and the like.

"Our objective has, all along, been to try and find every option to not do any layoffs, and to find meaningful employment for all of our staff," said Radean Carter, spokeswoman for the division, which counts 33,000 students.

Although "meaningful work" has been found for an overwhelming majority of staff, Carter said it wasn’t possible to find enough for all. She emphasized no permanent full-time staff are being affected.

Teachers continue to lesson plan from afar, while other employees have been tasked with everything from contacting students via telephone to supporting the WSD food security initiative to undertaking accounting tasks.

Between the latest layoffs and others already announced by city divisions, almost 900 school workers in Winnipeg have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That doesn’t include announcements made by the Brandon School Division, among others outside the Manitoba capital.

"Term employees, unfortunately, are the first people to go. It’s a crappy situation," said Carla Paul, president of the Winnipeg Association of Non-Teaching Employees, which represents a mix of 1,800 part- and full-time staffers.

"It’s circumstances. I am concerned for those employees because they’re good people, and you don’t want to see people in this kind of situation — but I also have to be concerned for the permanent employees and what is down the road for that."

Paul, who has been encouraging members to access federal benefits, added Tuesday if a "miracle" happens and classes resume before the end of the school year, staffers will be called back to work right away.

The province has asked all publicly-funded entities to review budgets and pinpoint savings where possible. School divisions haven’t been exempt from such a task.

Temporary layoffs, utility savings and bus fuel costs combined, the division expects to save $9.4 million from now until the end of June, if classes don’t resume. That adds up to a 29 per cent savings throughout April, May and June.

"These aren’t savings that would be viable in the long-term, but in the short-term, because of the suspension of classes, we’re able to find these savings," Carter said.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 9:05 AM CDT: Clarifies that no permanent full-time staff are being affected, and that other employees have been tasked with contacting students via telephone, supporting the WSD food security initiative and undertaking accounting tasks

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us