More layoffs coming to VIA Rail

BlackburnNews.com file photo of a Via Rail train . (Photo by Jason Viau)

Travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in temporary layoffs coming to VIA Rail.

For the second time in 2020, Canada’s national passenger rail network will issue temporary pink slips to 1,000 employees.

Despite what VIA Rail has called positive developments in maintaining service, President and CEO Cynthia Garneau said the layoffs are necessary to put the system in the best possible financial health.

“We have made every effort to protect our employees to the best of our abilities against the impacts of the service reductions,” said Garneau in a media release. “Unfortunately, as we don’t anticipate ridership to be back to pre-COVID-19 levels in the foreseeable future, we have had to make difficult decisions to deal with the situation as we gain a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on our operations.”

Layoff notices will be sent out to the affected employees, with the separation effective July 24. The release indicated that the rail system would maintain access to specific programs for employees during the layoffs. Garneau also expressed hope that once customer demand rebounds, the employees will be back on the job as soon as possible.

VIA Rail had to issue layoff notices in February after line disruptions caused by protestors affected travel on some routes.