July 8, 2020

27° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast


Advertise With Us

Winnipeg school divisions jettison pandemic-idled support staff

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>South Pointe School, just one of the schools belonging to Pembina Trails School Division which recently laid of up to 500 staff members because the division doesn’t have any work for them.</p>


South Pointe School, just one of the schools belonging to Pembina Trails School Division which recently laid of up to 500 staff members because the division doesn’t have any work for them.

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

Hundreds of school support staff have joined the ever-growing list of Winnipeggers out of work due to COVID-19 workforce disruptions.

Last week, the Pembina Trails School Division informed upwards of 500 staff members that for the time being, the division doesn’t have any work for them.

"It is with great sadness that we must temporarily reduce our workforce, due to COVID-19 and the directive from the province to lessen spending and support critical services during this pandemic," spokeswoman Stacey Ashley said in an emailed statement.

Among the positions being temporarily eliminated, 472 educational assistants, 32 library technicians and 24 bus drivers.

A total of 370 breakfast and lunch supervisors, crossing guards and bus duty positions combined, and 36 staff who support programs including after-school sessions, are also on the list of temporary layoffs.

Since these staffers — many of them part-time employees — often take on overlapping roles, the division estimates the tally is above the 500 mark.

At the opposite end of the city, 47 educational assistants in the Seven Oaks School Division will be out of work starting next month.

Superintendent Brian O’Leary said the division has also offered bus drivers the option of custodial work or a layoff; 21 employees have accepted the former and 27 have accepted the latter, effective May 13.

The province has tasked divisions with finding "meaningful work" for all staff, if possible. At the same time, Premier Brian Pallister has made clear that public-sector employees will not be paid if they are not working.

"Our division is trying very hard to maintain our employment levels, as is and making sure all of our staff have meaningful work. That’s the key — to make sure they have meaningful work," said Radean Carter, of the Winnipeg School Division.

Carter said Monday the province’s largest division is still in the process of determining what kind of work is available to each staff member.

Other Winnipeg area divisions, including the Louis Riel School Division and the St. James Assiniboia School Division, have also yet to announce any related reductions; spokespeople for both suggested Monday there were no immediate plans to revisit staffing levels.

The River-East Transcona School Division did not provide details about any layoffs before deadline Monday.


Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh

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


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.

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.


Advertise With Us