AGLC Starts 2021 with 265 Layoffs Due to Pandemic

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission made it through all of 2020 without officially laying off any employees. From the time that the coronavirus pandemic hit Canada in March through the end of the year, the AGLC managed to keep employees on the payroll.

That all changed on Monday, January 11. Commission employees had to contact 265 people to inform them of the layoff news, not even two weeks into the new year.

AGLC Up Against a Wall

The 265 employee layoffs will go into effect at the end of January or the beginning of February.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) spokesperson Heather Holmen issued a brief statement confirming the layoffs and expressing the difficulty of the decision. Per Edmonton City News, she said, “AGLC has continually worked to balance both budgetary and operational challenges the pandemic has presented. While we have been able to do this during previous restrictions and layoffs, that is no longer the case.”

She referred to the closures of 2020. When the pandemic first crept into Canada, the national government – with cooperation from health officials and provincial governments – ordered the shutdowns of many nonessential businesses. This, of course, included casinos. They closed during the third week of March.

Many actions thereafter depended upon provincial directions. Alberta officials allowed most gambling establishments to open in June, though they had to limit capacity and operations and implement strict safety protocols.

Throughout the summer and into fall, Alberta slowly lifted or lessened some of the remaining restrictions.

That trend reversed when a second wave of positive Covid-19 cases swept across North America. Gambling establishments had to increase restrictions and limit capacity further in November. The government ultimately issued another closure mandate in mid-December.

Holmen added that the AGLC understands the difficult times. “AGLC operations and support for our partners will remain largely unchanged by these layoffs,” she said. It is unclear what exactly remains unchanged as 265 employees become laid-off employees in the coming weeks.

AUPE Not Amused

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is an organization representing workers in Alberta since 1919, though it didn’t take on its current name and designation as a union until 1977. Today, it boasts of approximately 95,000 members.

More than 200 of its members were among those affected by the AGLC layoffs.

The AUPE issued a press release the day after the layoff announcement to say that it doesn’t fault AGLC but the government.

AUPE Vice President Susan Slade noted, “While our members recognize the AGLC has had its revenues drastically reduced, some are having a hard time understanding why the government shut down the gaming industry while leaving people free to walk through crowds in the malls and in big box stores.”

Slade also said a reminder that AGLC generates revenue for the government, revenue that will be “critical to a post-pandemic recovery.” She added that its members affected by the government’s shutdown mandate worked hard to operate safely in the months leading up to the December closings “only to be handed layoff notices.”

Coronavirus Status

As of January 20, Alberta had administered 96,506 doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Future vaccination opportunities depend on Canadian government approvals of vaccines, manufacturer distributions, and staff available to administer the shots.

Up to and including January 20, these are some of the key coronavirus-related statistics:

  • Number of confirmed cases in Canada: 726,173
  • Canadian cases resulting in deaths: 18,478
  • Number of confirmed cases in Alberta: 119,114, of which 726 are in hospital and 119 in ICU
  • Alberta cases resulting in deaths: 1,500
  • Number of tests completed in Alberta: 3,066,222 to 1,726,667 individuals

The last official order from the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta came on December 11. Dr. Deena Hinshaw ordered all recreational, entertainment, festival, and event business closed, as well as food-serving recreational and entertainment businesses, the latter including casinos.

Retail businesses in malls, clothing stores, shopping centres, gift shops, and sporting goods stores could remain open but had to limit capacity.

The January 18 update to that order changed only to permit limited outdoor social gatherings, funeral ceremonies, and personal and wellness services.

The number of active cases has been on the decline since December in Alberta, but the numbers remain high enough to keep strict orders in place.

 

 

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen

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