Conestoga news

April 20, 2020 9:45 AM

Conestoga announces layoffs in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Temporary layoff notices have been issued to 119 part-time employees at Conestoga as the college makes workforce adjustments in response to changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic

All facilities across Conestoga’s network of campuses have been closed to students, employees and visitors since mid-March in accordance with physical distancing requirements aimed to stop the continued spread of the pandemic. Programs and services are delivered remotely as students, instructors and college staff work from their homes.

Facility closures and suspension of in-person services have left many of Conestoga’s part-time employees with limited or no work. As a result, Conestoga has made the difficult decision to issue temporary layoff notices to 119 permanent part-time support staff employees. The workers are represented by the Ontario Public Services Employees Union. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on residents, businesses and organizations across our community and beyond,” said President John Tibbits. “Conestoga is no exception, and reducing staff levels to meet current operational needs is a necessary if difficult decision at this time.”

Staff affected by the layoffs were employed primarily in front-line service and support roles that will remain suspended while campuses are closed.  Most of the layoffs took effect as of Friday, April 17: the balance will be effective on or before May 1.

Affected employees will be eligible to apply for support through the federal government’s Employment Insurance Benefits and Canada Emergency Response Benefit plan.

“I’d like to thank these valued employees for their dedicated service to Conestoga, our programs and our students,” Tibbits continued. “I look forward to the time when we can reopen facilities and resume normal campus operations.”

In addition to the layoffs, Conestoga has taken a number of other measures to address the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, from deferring capital projects and freezing administrative salaries to suspending contracts for part-time casual and temporary employees.

The college anticipates substantial enrolment declines for the Spring 2020 semester which begins the week of May 19 in remote delivery format. Traditionally, Conestoga attracts a large population of international students, now restricted from entering the country as a result of COVID-19.