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Manitoba Hydro to lay off up to 700 employees

Canadian provincial utility Manitoba Hydro confirmed earlier this week that it will begin temporary layoffs, affecting 600 to 700 employees, which will provide about $11 million in savings.

Winnipeg’s CTV News reported that these temporary layoffs work out to more than 10% of the full-time equivalent positions listed in Manitoba Hydro’s most recent annual report. Last month, the Progressive Conservative government told crown corporations, universities and other public bodies to map out three scenarios for reducing labor costs from May through August, by 10%, 20% and 30%.

It has been reported that the layoffs could last for four months.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he doubts the layoffs will affect service because of the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the private sector, meaning Manitoba Hydro doesn’t need to provide as much service as it normally does. “I can only tell you that we’re in a pandemic and the fact of the matter is that every aspect of society is impacted by it,” he said at a news conference.

Winnipeg Sun says this $11 million savings will be added to measures intended to cut $75 million in expenditures for the utility, bringing total cuts in operating expenses to $86 million. “Crown Services minister Jeff Wharton said in an email that it was up to Manitoba Hydro as to where they were going to find their savings. The funding is being redirected to the frontlines of the pandemic,” the website said.

Manitoba Hydro is the province’s major energy utility, serving 586,795 electric customers in Manitoba and 284,996 natural gas customers in southern Manitoba. About 96% of the electricity the company produces is clean, renewable power generated at 15 hydroelectric generating stations on the Nelson, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Burntwood and Laurie rivers.