Cuts to city staff include 32 library staff members

By Kirk Winter

When the city recently announced they were laying off more than 200 part-time employees currently working for the city, this included 32 library staff.

Jamie Anderson, CEO of the Kawartha Lakes Library system, told the Advocate that all the library’s part-time staff would be temporarily laid off as of April 18.

Emergency declarations coast to coast have determined that libraries are non-essential sites, and therefore will be closed for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cheri Davidson, communications manager for Kawartha Lakes, says they are reviewing “the City’s balance sheet weekly.”

“As expected revenues are down significantly due to the deferred property tax due dates and reduced revenues in other areas such as facility rentals and user fees,” she says.

To complement the loss of revenues, she says the city is “continually looking at spending containment.”

“Due to mandated reduction of services, we had to suspend hiring certain seasonal staff such as summer students. A total of approximately 200 part-time, seasonal and contract staff are impacted by layoffs,” she says.

CUPE Local 855 who represents the bulk of Kawartha Lakes staff was contacted for comment. Lyn Edwards, the local president, replied by e-mail, “At this time the union and the employer are in discussions to achieve the best way forward for their community, the employees and the city.”

One library staffer contacted for background who received their notice is trying to stay positive, but has some nagging concerns.

“I know in my head these layoffs are temporary but we know so little about the COVID-19 virus and how long libraries will be closed. I fear we could be shuttered well into the fall. Peterborough County has told their staff May 31. Vancouver is talking August 31.”

A second laid off library employee contacted for background fears the financial impact these layoffs will have on library staff.

“To be blunt, 55 per cent of what was already only a part-time wage through EI is going to be tough. I talked to someone at the 1-800 number regarding corona support and they weren’t even sure the additional support would be there beyond early summer. This is very concerning for all involved.”

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