Port Coquitlam lays off 29 more staff due to COVID-19

The notices, which were handed out Monday, June 1, mean dozens of recreational coordinators, building service workers and facility service workers will either lose their jobs or have their hours cut back while buildings such as the rec centre remain closed.

The city of Port Coquitlam has issued layoff notices to an additional 29 employees as it helps manage the financial impact of COVID-19.

The notices, which were handed out Monday, June 1, mean dozens of recreational coordinators, building service workers and facility service workers will either lose their jobs or have their hours cut back while buildings such as the rec centre remain closed.

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To date, 190 casual employees and 114 regular city staff have now been laid off, moved to other duties or had their hours reduced due to the financial fallout from COVID-19.

“Layoff is in seniority order and based on available work,” wrote city spokesperson Pardeep Purewal in an email. “When we are in a position to re-open our facilities, staff will return to their regular positions.”

Purewal told The Tri-City News the cuts were made at a time when recreation facilities remain closed or scaled back. The city is also reducing non-essential spending and putting a hold on external hiring. 

“Critical positions” are the exception and essential services — like fire and police, garbage collection, water and sewer services, as well as the maintenance and operation of critical infrastructure — will not be affected.

“Many city staff continue to work from home, and a variety of services are still being provided by phone, email and online, including services for businesses, the development community and seniors,” wrote Purewal in an email. 

Port Coquitlam is not the only Tri-City municipality to make cuts to its workforce due to the pandemic. In early April, the city of Coquitlam cut roughly 800 employees from its payroll. At the time, the city also said it was looking to find savings by adjusting the timing of some capital projects.

Each of the three cities has made adjustments to their spending and tax collection as the impacts of COVID-19 have bled them of revenue and put a strain on their finances. More recently, they’ve announced moves to cut red tape and invest in programs to kickstart business

Each of the Tri-Cities, for example, is looking to fast-track the expansion of restaurant patios to offer patrons and staff enough space to comply with social distancing measures meant to stem the spread of COVID-19, and in Port Coquitlam, the city is billing itself as a one-stop shop for support that could include waived fees for expansions (with proof of insurance) and free construction services.

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