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The Montreal Casino Is Quietly Laying Off Hundreds Of Staff, Union Says

Management is planning to not bring back some staff laid off during the pandemic, the union says.

Contributing Writer
The entrance to Casino de Montreal.

The entrance to Casino de Montreal.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the Montreal Casino is effectively planning to quietly lay off hundreds of its workers. This is in spite of the February 10 announcement by Loto-Quebec — which operates the province's gambling venues — that as part of Quebec's reopening plan they'll be reopening casinos in Montreal, Charlevoix and Lac-Leamy on February 28.

"The Montreal Casino is preparing to move ahead with hundreds of hidden layoffs, which violates the collective agreement that is still in force," CUPE said in a news release on February 24.

According to the CUPE, workers were first laid off in 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers were paid through to July 21, 2020, and subsequently have been out of work. And now that restrictions are lifting, the casino is not bringing all old employees back on board, the union says.

"We demand that they bring back all employees on March 14. If not, hundreds of workers will be out of a job for good by July 21," said CUPE union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx.

The press release pointed out that working in a casino is not a "typical" job. "Employees must go through a rigorous process and are investigated to determine their integrity prior to being hired. They work with clients that are quite difficult at times, and they bring in a lot of money to public sector coffers."

The CUPE is calling on the Quebec government to ensure that all casino workers get their jobs back by March 14.

The Montreal Casino will be reopening, including restaurants and performance halls, on February 28. The casino will be open at half capacity for two weeks. Wearing a mask and presenting a vaccine passport will be required.

MTL Blog reached out to Loto-Quebec for comment.

Renaud Dugas, the director of public affairs for Loto-Quebec, said that "overall, 2,260 employees will be recalled to work in its four casinos and two gaming halls. To date, 300 dealers have been recalled to their positions at the Casino de Montreal. Over the coming week, the Casino de Montreal will pursue its gradual reopening, recalling its staff based on traffic and customer expectations."

Dugas also touched on the Casino de Montreal dealers union, saying that he hopes to reach an agreement with them, and the there are upcoming meetings in place for this regard.

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