Olds College is temporarily laying off some of its staff and reducing the hours of others.
The decision, which will impact up to 100 workers, is in response to a decrease in revenue and an increase in expenses amid the coronavirus outbreak, said college president Stuart Cullum on Monday.
The notices was handed out to staff late last week, but the measures don’t come into effect until May.
Cullum said the college made the decision to keep its budget balanced and come out of the pandemic with a stronger financial footing.
“Our operations have had to adapt, and as a result of that, we’re facing a situation where our revenues have been impacted and we’ve also had expenses as well,” he said, citing expenditures resulting from moving to online delivery of courses.
With the virus, the college residences – traditionally a source of income – are empty. Other sources of income, such as retail sales and events, have been significantly diminished, added the president.
Cullum said it’s hard to say how long the layoffs will last, but the hope is to return to pre-COVID-19-type operations this autumn.
“We’re hopeful it’ll happen before the fall semester, so when September hits, we can get back to our normal instruction and classroom activity, at which point we will need all our folks back in their roles,” Cullum said.
Cullum said the temporary measures do not impact student learning. The cutbacks involve those in administrative, managerial and support roles.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents many of the workers, said staff were notified of the layoffs just before the Easter long weekend. The union pointed to the United Conservative government’s recent cuts to post-secondary education.
“The UCP government is kicking rural Albertans when they are already down,” says AUPE vice-president Bobby-Joe Borodey.
“We are in the middle of a global pandemic and the UCP is forcing massive layoffs when Albertans need security and support from their government.”
Cullum said the measures have nothing to do with the government, and are a result of the ongoing pandemic.