SAULT STE. MARIE -- With employee benefits for 105 full- and part-time staff at the Sault Ste. Marie Gateway Casino are set to expire at the end of the month, union leaders are hoping the company will continue to provide them while the casino stays closed.

“Initially when they were sent home because of the COVID-19, we negotiated with the company extension of benefits up until the end of June,” said Marc Ayotte, the United Steelworkers area coordinator for Local 8748-18. “Then we sat down again for an extension and we came to an agreement to an extension to Aug. 31.”

With that date fast approaching, Ayotte hopes the company will offer another extension.

“It’s huge -- it’s everything for them right now," he said. "Especially if you need medication, if you’re asthmatic, if you have problems with whatever medical conditions this is a big plus for them."

In response to a question from CTV News, Gateway was non-committal about extending the benefits.

“Our focus right now is on finalizing our plans and reopening our facilities as quickly as we are able,” the company said in a statement.

The province gave the go ahead to reopen casinos last month. However, there are some restrictions on how many people are allowed in at the same time. That decision led to Ontario Casinos choosing to remain closed.

Ayotte said he hopes to be in contact with Gateway later this month for further talks about an extension for workers.