Citing a reduced workload because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) has issued temprary layoff notices to some of its staff.
"As a result of the reduction of work due to COVID-19, Ontario Northland has issued temporary layoff notices to a limited number of employees," spokeswoman Rebecca McGlynn told CKAT News.
"This impacts 25 employees in North Bay and Cochrane who work at the Cochrane Station Inn, on the dining car of the Polar Bear Express passenger train, and in the areas of rail mechanical and remanufacturing and repair.
Headquartered in North Bay, the Crown agency offers freight and passenger rail service, and bus service throughout Ontario. The ONTC additionally operates a 150,000-square-foot remanufacturing and repair shop where it rebuilds and refurbishes rail equipment.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the organization has suspended operation of the Polar Bear Express, which runs between Cochrane and Moosonee, and has reduced the frequency of trips on some of its bus routes.
McGlynn said employees will be called back when work is available, but in the meantime, those impacted would be provided access to counselling and information on wage subsidy programs.
"For the past six weeks, Ontario Northland has supported a number of employees without work due to service reductions with full compensation and reassignments," McGlynn said.
"The company has proposed an alternative to layoffs to Unifor Local 103 that includes wage guarantees, benefits and pension contributions. We hope an agreement can be reached shortly."
As of April 1, the ONTC comes under the purview of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.