Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey councillors say halt policing transition as 2,016 workers laid off

City of Surrey has reportedly laid off 1,900 part-time auxiliary workers and 140 full-time employees because of the pandemic

The City of Surrey has temporarily laid off 2,016 employees because of the pandemic.

Councillor Linda Annis said Friday that city hall “hasn’t actually made an official announcement” about it.

“I do know that our library and all of our recreation centres and sports arenas and so-on have been closed for a few weeks now so unfortunately I think it was inevitable that there would be some layoffs happening,” she said. “You know it’s very, very tragic but I guess it really goes to show that no one’s really immune from the effects of the COVID-19 virus, which is very, very unfortunate.

“They are temporary layoffs,” Annis added. “The plan is once things return back to a state where we can actually open some of the city facilities again that it’s my understanding that these workers will be re-hired.”

Councillor Jack Hundial said the bulk is auxiliary part-time staff from museums, recreation centres and swimming pools.

“I think we’re going to be in for some significant belt-tightening in the city,” he said, adding that hopefully everyone will be returned to work. “We have great staff in the city, great individuals.”

Joey Brar, director of human resources for the City of Surrey, noted In an emailed statement from city hall Friday afternoon that since March 16 city-operated recreation centres, libraries, civic ice arenas, cultural facilities, museums and public pools have been closed on account of the virus, resulting in “temporary workforce reductions for part-time staff in Parks and Recreation and regular staff at the libraries.

“The City of Surrey is providing 28 days of pay continuity for part-time and auxiliary staff and 42 days of pay continuity for regular staff that have been temporarily laid off,” Brar said. “The temporary layoffs affect 1,276 part time/auxiliary staff who worked in 2020 an average of 2.7 hours per week prior to the pandemic. Approximately 600 part time/auxiliary staff who have not worked for the City this year but have worked some hours for the City within the last 12 months were also given notice. Many of the part time/auxiliary employees have other employment outside the City. 140 regular staff have been temporarily laid off by Surrey libraries. The staff reductions are exclusively due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are temporary.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

Meantime, both councillors are calling for a halt to the city’s controversial $129-million plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with its own police force.

“How can the mayor and council look taxpayers in the eye when people are losing their jobs and having difficulty making ends meet?” Annis said. “It’s cruel and unconscionable to be spending any time or money on anything other than the health and safety of our residents.”

She said the city needs to “shelve” the policing transition “at least until Surrey and its taxpayers are back on their feet. Spending time and money we don’t have on this proposal would be outrageous in the face of what our city and our citizens are facing right now.”

Annis charges there’s been a lack of transparency in the plan and claims every available dollar at city hall has been siphoned into the proposed transition.

“I think it’s important that our mayor and Minister Mike Farnworth put this proposal on hold immediately, and that we focus on the current crisis and rebuilding our economy when it’s over,” Annis said.

“Our city’s health and safety first responders are doing an incredible job alongside the dedicated team at Surrey Memorial Hospital. That’s where our focus should be right now. Our city has laid off employees and tens of thousands of Surrey residents are struggling trying to figure out how to pay their mortgages. Revenues at city hall have plummeted and there’s a new reality staring us in the face. We cannot afford to put any more time or taxpayer resources into a costly police transition proposal.”

READ ALSO: Farnworth says redacted Surrey police transition report is ‘very comprehensive’

On stalling the policing transition plan, Hundial said, “I’ve been a firm believer we need more transparency around the cost of this to date, and what the projected costs are and I think if there was ever a time for the city to pause on any one program of this magnitude, this would be the time to do it.”

Meantime, Surrey property taxes are due July 2, with notices to go out at the end of May.

“That I believe is still in discussions with the provincial government on what kind of relief,” Hundial said, “and I suspect it will be a co-ordinated province-wide decision for that, it would only make sense for all cities to act in a same or similar manner.”

From the City of Surrey’s perspective, Hundial said, “I think we need to look at some significant belt-tightening on initiatives that need to be put on hold and that we should get ready for when there is hopefully an announcement in the future on federal infrastructure dollars coming in for those shovel-ready projects such as our rec centres, pools, roadways, to start helping the economy move again.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

City of SurreyCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read