The City of Winnipeg is hoping to redeploy some employees to either the province or to non-government organizations following mass layoffs.

Since October 31, recreation facilities, gyms, indoor pools, arenas, and libraries owned by the city have been closed due to the elevation to Red on the Pandemic Response System. The Winter Leisure Guide is postponed.

Starting Sunday, approximately 600 city employees will begin to be laid off, temporarily. The City says they are working with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) to find ways to redeploy employees where possible.

"Our community services folks, in my opinion, have hearts of gold," City of Winnipeg Emergency Operations Centre Manager Jason Shaw says.

He says they are close to Winnipeg residents and hope to keep them engaged.

Staff members who are laid off will have access to mental health supports and be included in communications from their city employer. 

"The City recognizes that all employees provide important services, and anyone affected by the temporary lay-off should not see this as a reflection of their value to the City. As soon as it is safe to reopen City facilities and restart programming, the City looks forward to welcoming these employees back to work," Shaw says.

Staff may be redeployed in ways to help the Province of Manitoba. The staff could be redeployed to non-governmental organizations. 

"Stay tuned. We are just making those phone calls today and making sure we have a plan in place."

Shaw says not all staff members will be redeployed, and there is the possibility of all 600 employees being laid off without redeployment. 

"For those employees who are in receipt of regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, the City has registered a Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) with the Government of Canada," the city says in a statement.

SUBP will provide a top-up to 75% of the employee's regular gross weekly salary for up to four weeks.