Ingram Street in Duncan is usually packed with parked vehicles on weekdays, but the COVID-19 crisis has seen business and activities in the Cowichan Valley come to a virtual standstill. Local governments have either laid off staff, or are carefully monitoring staff work loads, as the pandemic continues. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Local governments reviewing staff levels, doing layoffs, as COVID-19 crisis grips Cowichan

139 municipal workers in North Cowichan already impacted by virus

Some local governments in the Cowichan Valley are reviewing their staff levels during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the employment of 139 workers in the Municipality of North Cowichan has been impacted by the virus.

Ted Swabey, North Cowichan’s CAO, said at this time, the municipality has laid off 68 casual employees and 29 contract staff, issued working notice of layoff to 28 permanent staff and has rescinded seasonal employment offers to 14 temporary seasonal employees who were scheduled to start in the coming weeks.


“Our COVID-19 rapid response team is analyzing our immediate, short and potentially longer-term workforce needs in the face of the pandemic,” Swabey said.

“We are also analyzing which portions of our workforce may continue to contribute productively while working remotely, and which portions could be safely redeployed to other duties in response to the crisis.”

Swabey said that, admittedly, this analysis work has proven difficult in a very fluid situation.

“For example, the almost daily escalating recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer [Dr. Bonnie Henry] has required us to repeatedly review and adjust our analysis since the onset of this crisis,” he said.

“We are continually monitoring our workforce and community needs as this situation evolves, we are keeping open communication with [the municipality’s union] CUPE Local 358, and we are liaising with other local governments in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”

Peter de Verteuil, the City of Duncan’s CAO, said there have been no layoffs to date among city staff due to COVID-19, but some staff are now working from home, and some in the public works department are on a week-on, week-off rotation to limit exposure to the virus.


“But those at home, working or not, are still being paid,” he said.

De Verteuil said that with the measures in place, the city’s staff are able to practise social distancing and support the essential services that are still being undertaken by the city during the crisis.

A statement from the Cowichan Valley Regional District said, at this time, the district has also not laid off any of its full or part-time staff due to the pandemic.


“A majority of our staff are currently working in essential services or working from home,” the CVRD’s statement said.

“We are in the process of reviewing our critical staffing levels and will be making appropriate staff decisions in the coming weeks.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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

Just Posted

New ACT team will help Cowichan residents struggling with mental health issues

The Cowichan Valley ACT team will be one of six new teams being created across the province.

Duncan man at large after massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Bob Day making another run for mayor of Lake Cowichan

Day has served 10 years as town councillor

Ross Forrest eyes the mayor’s chair in Lake Cowichan again

Forrest served 10 years as mayor before losing the last election

Prescribed burn for the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9, if and when site and weather conditions become favourable.

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read