City of Edmonton temporarily lays off 900 more staff as $163M shortfall looms
EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton will lay off another 900 employees due to transit service reductions and lower demand for outdoor events and administrative services.
Half of the people being laid off are bus and LRT operators, while the other half includes administrative, analytical, community liaison, human resources, technology and training staff.
"COVID-19 is continuing to have an impact on public health, the economy, and City services, and again it is taking a toll on our colleagues," Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin said in a statement.
Monday's layoff announcement follows a similar announcement in late March when more than 2,000 city employees were temporarily let go.
The city did not say how long it expects the temporary layoffs to last.
Mayor Don Iveson said last week that more layoffs were coming. Cuts to department budgets are being advised, as well as cuts to councillors’ office budgets.
The city’s latest estimate predicts the pandemic will leave a $163.7-million hole in its 2020 operating budget.
The number is based on projections that assume current public health measures will stay in place until mid-September.
The bulk of that deficit is due to revenue loss. City staff project a loss of $56.7 million from transit fares, $37.6 million from recreation centre fees, and $14 million in the roads and parks department, mostly made up of lost parking revenue.
The city also has models that project the impact on revenues in various business scenarios for the rest of 2020.
In the rosiest outlook, city business would be 75 per cent back to normal by the end of the year, translating to a $187.5-million revenue loss.
The worst case would be if current public health measures remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2020, costing the city an estimated $252.3 million. These projections are on top of the $163.7-million hole mentioned in the best-case scenario.
Administration has recommended spending cuts like layoffs to address the shortfall, rather than cancelling or delaying major city projects.
The only programs staff recommend delaying are the Bus Network Redesign and the Waste Cart Program. Both were slated to happen this summer, but can be delayed until early 2021.
Council is currently debating the recommendations from city staff on both the general Operating Budget and the Waste Services Operating Budget.