Coronavirus: 10,000 hospitality workers expected to be laid off in Saskatchewan

Around 10,000 hospitality workers in Saskatchewan could soon be out of work as restaurants shut their doors and hotels become ghost towns amid concerns around COVID-19.

The province declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

On the other side of the spectrum, some employees in limbo can’t even apply for employment insurance (EI). Many work in low-earning positions such as in restaurants and bars, and live paycheque-to-paycheque, according to the Saskatchwan Federation of Labour.

“They’re not getting any scheduled hours, but they’re not getting a layoff notice as well, so they don’t have the ability to apply for EI,” said Lori Johb, the federation’s president.

With news changing every day, Johb said some employers are uncertain about what will happen next. She said it’s important to keep communication between employers and staff open.

“As soon as they know that they have to make a decision about layoffs, they need to do that, they need to share that with the workers,” she said.

The federal government unveiled an $82-billion emergency response package on Tuesday to help Canadian families and businesses with income supports and tax deferrals.

“We need, when this is over, for us to have a great employee base that can come back to work,” Bence said. “We also need those businesses that are out there to survive so we have jobs for them to return to.”

Bence said his organization is working with the federal and provincial governments to find ways to help the province’s hospitality industry.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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