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BC Ferries, Vancouver orchestra retract layoffs hoping for wage subsidies

April 15, 2020
By The Canadian Press

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and BC Ferries have rescinded lay-off notices in anticipation of receiving the Canadian government’s emergency wage subsidies.

Both BC Ferries and the symphony had planned layoffs to take effect on the Easter weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic drains away their businesses.

Temporary lay-off notices were issued to 1,100 staff at BC Ferries and while those notices were rescinded for 500 regular staff, layoffs of 600 casual employees remain in effect.

A statement from the symphony says in addition to the expected federal subsidy it will also invest $287,000 to keep staff employed through to the end of the season in June.


It says the symphony was planning to release virtual performances through its new VSOHome series in the coming weeks.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says in an email statement that it’s unclear if the company will benefit from the wage subsidy program, but regular workers will still be employed.

The B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union has said the staff cuts violate the collective agreement and warned it would take legal action to oppose them.

In response to the pandemic, a new Transport Canada regulation ordered large vessels, including ferries, to reduce the maximum number of passengers per sailing by 50 per cent.

Customers were also advised to limit ferry trips to essential travel only, and BC Ferries temporarily ended all runs on its Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay route and trimmed sailings on other routes.

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