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Good news. Air Canada to immediately rehire more than 16,000 laid-off workers

PortandTerminal.com, April 8, 2020

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – More than 16,000 workers laid-off by Air Canada last week in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are being hired back by the airline.

On March 30, Air Canada announced that its workforce in Canada would be temporarily reduced by approximately 50 per cent, or 16,500 jobs, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the imposition of global travel restrictions. 

READ: AIRLINES – Air Canada to lay off 16,500 workers on COVID19 crisis

“Other than returning the remaining Canadians home and continuing a skeleton operation, we will be essentially ‘closed for business’ for most of the quarter,” Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, a senior executive at the airline had said at the time.

That’s now changed.

Thanks to an emergency wage subsidy program called “CEWS” launched by the Government of Canada as part of its COVID-19 aid package, Air Canada will be hiring back all of its employees.

Under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or CEWS program, the Canadian Government pays 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Full details are available by clicking here.

Air Canada’s announcement today comes after discussions between federal officials, the airline and its unions about whether or not the company would be eligible for the 75 per cent wage subsidy announced as part of the government’s COVID-19 aid package.

AIr Canada employee wearing a surgical mask standing behind airport counter
Thanks to the CEWS program, 16,500 employees are being hired back immediately.

“The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is an extremely important program to help employees and employers during this time of crisis, and as one of Canada’s largest employers most affected by COVID-19, we want to acknowledge the leadership of the Government of Canada in introducing it,” Rovinescu said in the release. Rovinescu and Air Canada’s chief financial officer, Michael Rousseau, are also giving up 100 per cent of their salaries, the press release said.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email that the employees being brought back will be paid, but won’t actually have any work.

“Furloughed employees will get returned to payroll but will not be brought back to active duty status (i.e. come back to work) as there is no work for them given we have reduced our schedule by approximately 90 per cent,” Fitzpatrick said in an email. “By being brought back to payroll, they will get full benefits and stay connected to the company.”

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