Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets reverse course and will pay part-time staff during COVID-19 crisis
By Todd Humber
The company that owns the Calgary Flames is reversing course, saying it will help part-time event staff who will be underemployed during the suspension of the NHL season.
The company made the announcement on Sunday — a day after it was made public in an email that Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation employees affected by a halt in operations at Scotiabank Saddledome were not going to receive pay for lost shifts.
President and CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment, John Bean, says in a statement that the organization will now be “adopting an income bridge support program for qualifying employees.”
CSE is also the operator of the arena, which is owned by the City of Calgary.
Public steps up with online fundraiser
Raymond Lau, a former employee at the Saddledome, started an online fundraiser to help offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers at the venue when he first heard CSE wouldn’t be compensating staff.
The campaign, which has contributions from Flames players Milan Lucic, Sam Bennett, and Zac Rinaldo, along with the wives of TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, had raised over $60,000 as of Sunday afternoon, well past its $10,000 goal.
Bean also says in the statement that CSE “obtained a number of additional pieces of information including communicating directly with many part-time employees,” leading to the announced program.
Calgary Sports and Entertainment also owns the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks. Both of those leagues have also suspended their seasons.
Winnipeg Jets also change tune
Meanwhile, True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Winnipeg Jets, has made a change in plans, saying it will now pay its part-time workers, too.
True North on Sunday sent a letter to its employees affected at Bell MTS Place to let them know that they would be paid in full for all remaining Jets games until the end of March.
Also on Sunday, the Montreal Canadiens announced an assistance program for their game-day employees without work, a plan similar to those rolled out by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks earlier this week for their NHL teams and other properties.
The Ottawa Senators haven’t announced any decisions on the issue.