Employers take flexible approach to Raptors parade as huge numbers head downtown

TORONTO — The massive response to the Toronto Raptors NBA championship parade has led numerous major employers to take a more flexible approach to work Monday.

Sobeys Inc., an official partner of the Raptors, says it offered about 900 employees in the Greater Toronto Area a paid day off to watch the parade, while also hosting viewing parties for employees across the country.

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"We acknowledge the victory parade as an incredible moment in history, and wanted to support our employees in experiencing it first-hand," said spokeswoman Jacquelin Weatherbee by email.

Insurer Manulife Financial Corp. said it encouraged employees to celebrate the win and to attend the championship parade.

Many other employers say that while they haven't set out an official policy, managers have been encouraged to give employees the day off when possible.

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, University of Toronto vice-president of human resources, asked in a memo that managers and supervisors do their best to accommodate requests for staff to attend the parade.

"The University is offering flexibility for all those faculty and staff who wish to attend the Raptors' victory rally at Nathan Phillips Square," she said.

"As a longtime basketball and Raptors fan, I share the entire city's pride and excitement in watching the Raptors win the 2019 NBA Championship."

City of Toronto staff were given the option, when possible, of going to the game, without having to use vacation time, said spokeswoman Christina Barnes.

"Where operationally feasible, management is encouraged to approve requests by staff who wish to participate in today's events," she said by email.

The Toronto District School Board said it didn't set out an official policy on the parade, but that some classes may have chosen to attend the parade with appropriate permissions.

Some smaller employers elsewhere in Ontario announced on Facebook that they've shut down for the day to travel to the parade, such as the Lotus & The Bee restaurant in Hamilton, Ont., and the Berford Street Bookstore & Bazaar in Wiarton, Ont.

Downtown Toronto was packed with huge numbers of people Monday as the basketball team celebrated its historic championship run.

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