VIA Rail laid off approximately 1,000 unionized workers across the country on July 8, with the “difficult decision” announced in a statement from the transportation provider, issued on the same day.
The temporary layoffs do not affect service on the Northern route B.C. route, which will run as scheduled.
“Service between Jasper-Prince George-Prince Rupert will continue according to the resumption plan shared last May 26,” Karl-Philip Marchand Giguere public relations advisor, told Black Press.
“While VIA Rail has observed recent positive developments in service resumption, many routes are still interrupted. This has therefore led VIA Rail to reconsider its approach in order to further adjust to the increasing financial impacts this crisis has had on the company,” the statement said.
COVID-19 is just one of the cited reasons for the cross country employee terminations which will take effect on July 24.
“The current year has been filled with unprecedented challenges. First with the blockades in February and now with the ongoing pandemic, we have made every effort to protect our employees to the best of our abilities against the impacts of the service reductions,” Cynthia Garneau, president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail said.
“Unfortunately, as we don’t anticipate ridership to be back to pre-COVID-19 levels in the foreseeable future, we have had to make difficult decisions to deal with the situation as we gain a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on our operations.”
The passenger rail company said this is a very difficult situation for its employees and their families, but that they will be taken care of during the transitional period.
Affected employees will receive a temporary written layoff notice, which respects the terms of the collective agreements. To accompany its employees during these challenging times, VIA Rail will be maintaining access to different programs, the company said.
“VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking over 400 communities across Canada, and about 180 more communities through intermodal partnerships, and safely transported over 5 million passengers in 2019.”
“VIA Rail continues to work on advancing its service resumption plan as the situation evolves, with the objective of reintegrating its employees as soon as the customer demand allows it,” VIA Rail said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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