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Summer camps cancelled, no lifeguards at beaches as Sudbury cuts cost to battle growing budget shortfall
SUDBURY -- As first reported by CTV News, Greater Sudbury is not hiring 280 summer students it had planned to deploy across the city this summer.
That means no lifeguards will be posted at city beaches this summer, and parks, trails and other recreation areas will receive less maintenance than usual. Vacant positions at the city will also not be filled for the time being.
In a news release Tuesday, the city said the moves are necessary "to mitigate the financial deficit caused by COVID-19," which total $6.8 million so far in lost revenue and added costs.
"The elimination of the summer student program avoids costs of $1.7 million, which will instead be directed toward reducing the projected COVID-19 deficit," the release said.
As a result of the cancellation of the summer student program, which sees the hiring of 280 seasonal, part-time employees, the following services will be affected:
- All city-run summer camps and programs are cancelled, including neighbourhood association day camps.
- No lifeguard supervision will take place at municipal beaches.
- Parks, trails, sports fields and other recreational areas and open spaces will be maintained to ensure public safety, however services may be delayed. This means grass cutting, garbage cleanup and other general maintenance activities may take longer than usual.
- All museums will remain closed. At this time, provincial orders state that museums are not permitted to open.
Anyone who prepaid for summer programs will be automatically refunded. If you have not received a refund by June 12, call 311.
“COVID-19 has led to financial pressure on families, businesses and organizations throughout our community, and that includes our municipality,” Greater Sudbury CAO Ed Archer is quoted as saying in a news release. “At this time, due to orders under the provincial emergency, the future of summer programming and recreational facilities is very uncertain. We are also unclear on the level of hesitation by residents to participate in these activities.
"This is a very complex and difficult decision, but we must do everything we can to mitigate the long-term financial impact of this global pandemic on our taxpayers.”
As a consolation, those who had already signed rehire offers will still be eligible for jobs next summer as long as requirements are met.
And for those who are not able to find other work and aren't eligble for employment insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), they may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and receive up to $2,000 a month.In addition to the suspension of the summer student program, city council has approved an increase in the deferred hiring of vacant positions from $1 million (approved in the 2020 budget) to $2.5 million. This will avoid costs worth an additional $1.5 million, which will instead be directed toward the projected COVID-19 deficit.
"These decisions become part of the city’s ongoing and previously announced deficit mitigation efforts," the release said. "A series of expenditure controls, and the temporary layoff of 322 seasonal and part-time staff announced on April 9, continue to be in effect."
The projected deficit until the end of June of $6.8 million includes loss of revenue from parking, transit, facility rentals and sports and programming fees.
"The city has also increased services to protect vulnerable populations, adjusted working conditions and locations to ensure health and safety and physical distancing, and altered service levels to respond to changes in demand, public health directives and financial realities" the release said. "This has added increased pressures on the 2020 budget."
An updated report on the municipality’s COVID-19 financial situation is scheduled to be presented to the finance and administration committee June 2.
“This unprecedented situation requires us to be flexible and implement additional mitigation strategies,” Archer said in the release. “We remain committed to providing municipal services while also taking steps to reduce the potential for a deficit at year-end.
"We are constantly managing the risk associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Under the province’s emergency orders, playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, splash pads and all indoor recreational facilities remain closed. Organized sports involving teams and close contact are not permitted under these provincial orders.
For COVID-19 updates and information related to city services, visit www.greatersudbury.ca/covid, or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/GreaterSudbury and www.twitter.com/GreaterSudbury. For the most up-to-date local information on COVID-19, visit the Public Health Sudbury & Districts website at www.phsd.ca/coronavirus.