LONDON, ONT. -- The City of London has announced roughly 1,100 layoffs in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The affected workers are temporary and casual employees who execute recreational programs and do seasonal work.

In the case of 300 employees, workers have had their start dates deferred. Close to 800 have been placed on temporary unpaid leave.

Impacted employees include:

  • Community centre staff
  • Recreation and sports programs
  • Neighbourhood activities
  • Aquatics staff members
  • Parks maintenance
  • Golf course employees
  • Seasonal staff in service areas including roads, water and sewers and facilities

“This is a difficult decision, but in these times, it’s the right decision,” said city manager Lynne Livingstone in a news release.

“It’s going to be a tough thing depending on how long this goes,” worries president of CUPE Local 107 Alastair Bruff.

Bruff represents city hall’s outside workers, including about 200 of the positions affected.

“Obviously you are going to see the grass growing, not a lot of maintenance being taken care of. The curb and gutter work that should be done isn’t going to start,” adds Bruff.

Livingstone explains that with so many municipal facilities temporarily closed, no fees are being collected.

“We’ll be issuing the ROE’s (Record of Employment) for people so they can make the best decisions for them in terms of the supports they need to access.”

Many of city hall’s seasonal staff are students. Pushing back their start date will significantly reduce the amount of money they earn this summer to pay tuition and school expenses.

LIvingstone says she is not currently considering laying off any full time city staff, “Londoners are depending on us to deliver minimal operations and essential services, so I need every single full time city of London worker healthy so we can continue to do that.”

It's unclear when these employees will be called back to work.

The city is urging impacted employees to seek support through employment insurance or Canadian Emergency Response Benefits. Applications opened Monday.

Additional support may also be accessed through the city’s employee and family assistance program.