Edmonton Public Schools issues temporary layoffs to 1,868 employees
Published Friday, April 17, 2020 12:00PM MDT Last Updated Friday, April 17, 2020 2:47PM MDT
EDMONTON -- COVID-19 will cost hundreds more Edmonton school employees their jobs temporarily.
Edmonton Public Schools said it issued temporary layoff notices to 1,868 employees this week "as a result of reductions to education funding by the provincial government."
CUPE Alberta previously told CTV News Edmonton it received word up to 2,100 support staff could lose their jobs.
While EPSB couldn't comment on the CUPE number, Superintendent Darrel Roertson said the confirmed 1,868 consists of temporary and permanent staff who work as educational and administrative assistance, food preparers, library technicians, and more.
Their last day of work will be May 15, and EPSB has provided information about federal and provincial financial supports, the board said.
Permanent staff will retain health benefits.
“These decisions were difficult. Every single one of our team members are valued,” Robertson said. “Together, our team has an unrelenting focus on ensuring students are successful. That focus has never wavered.”
- READ MORE: Edmonton Catholic Schools temporarily laying off hundreds of workers after government cuts
On March 28, the provincial government said it would redirect about $128 million in education funding to Alberta's pandemic response.
EPSB said its budget has been reduced by roughly $17.5 million, with $13.78 million coming out of the Base Instruction Grant and $3.7 million coming from the transportation budget.
According to Robertson, the cuts are significant and impact on staff was unavoidable.
"Our principals were given the task to say, 'OK, we’ve made the transition [to online learning], what do we need now going forward until the end of June to ensure we’re delivering quality online and remote learning?" he said.
"These are the numbers that are the result of that careful decision making.”
The government's education press secretary said the decision to make cuts was not made easily, but one necessitated by the pandemic in multiple sectors.
"The unfortunate reality is that classes are not in session as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While distance learning options are being utilized to varying degrees, these do not employ the same number of workers as when schools are physically in class," Colin Aitchison told CTV News Edmonton in a statement.
"Funding will be restored to regular levels when physical classes resume."
However, Robertson said he expects some job loss will be permanent come the next school year – though by how much he couldn't estimate.
On Thursday, Edmonton's Catholic school division announced 700 employees of its would be laid off, and cited education funding cuts as the cause.
Edmonton Catholic Schools said the cuts translated to a $5.7-million loss for the division.
The Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools district also has reduced staff numbers by 116 in response to the government needing to redirect dollars to COVID-19.