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Halifax lays off nearly 1,500 seasonal and casual workers, defers property tax


Atlantic Canada’s largest city is laying off nearly 1,500 casual, temporary and seasonal employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) says the 1,480 affected workers include more than 500 seasonal employees who are not currently employed, but will no longer be hired this spring and summer as planned.

Most of the workers are in the recreation department, while crossing guards and seasonal labourers are also being cut.

The municipality says it has also instituted a hiring freeze to help minimize layoffs.

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It’s also decided to defer the deadline for personal and commercial property taxes to June 1.

However, Mayor Mike Savage is urging people to pay sooner if they can, saying property taxes represent 82 per cent of the city’s revenue.

“I don’t want to unduly alarm anybody, but the fact is we get our money from property tax,” said Savage. “And the rest of it — the other 18 per cent — we’re no longer collecting.”

Savage said cities across the country are feeling the pinch and will require significant help from federal and provincial governments.

The municipality’s chief administrative officer, Jacques Dube, said while no permanent employees have been cut, it’s a move that could be possible in the future.

Dube said the municipal budget is being reviewed daily and adjustments “will have to be made going forward.”

The municipality employs about 5,000 staff.