The Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) could lay off 51 auxiliary and 117 regular employees this month if some services are not resumed.
In a statement, GVPL board chair Deborah Begoray said the GVPL chief executive provided the board with a report of options taking into account today’s financial pressures and those that may follow in the coming months. Begoray said the decision to vote in favour of issuing layoff notices was difficult for the board to make but “in the best interests of the organization.”
“Our greatest hope is that we may be in a position to reintroduce components of service delivery through our branches before the layoffs take effect, while following provincial health directives,” Begoray said. “At this moment in time, we must get the process underway.”
All 168 employees were provided leave with pay since the branch system closed its doors on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. GVPL chief executive Maureen Sawa said over the past seven weeks, 53 regular staff have been working remotely to maintain IT systems and facilities as well as lead virtual service delivery and provide digital collections. Sawa said there is no work available for the individuals who have been on paid leave since March 16.
“We care deeply about the well-being of our employees and I am proud of the library board’s decision to support our staff through this difficult time,” Sawa said.
The library system has plans to reintroduce components of service delivery that will meet provincial health directives. This means it is possible employees notified of layoffs may be called back to work before the notice is completed.
Auxiliary employees of GVPL will be paid until May 8, when they will be issued their layoff notice. Regular employees will be paid until May 15 and a further paid notice period will be activated as outlined in a collective agreement with CUPE 410 to a maximum of eight more weeks.
Ten municipalities receive service from GVPL through 12 branches, one electronic branch and more than 100 community partnerships.
On March 18, Vancouver Island Regional Libraries announced it was laying off the majority of its staff, two days after closing all branches indefinitely due to the pandemic.