Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is laying off 40 per cent of its business operations staff as the COVID-19 measures continue to restrict events and large gatherings in Ottawa and across Canada.
An OSEG spokesperson confirmed to CTV News Ottawa that staff were notified of the terminations on Wednesday, and more details may be released on Thursday.
OSEG CEO Mark Goudie tells OSEG staff in a memo Tuesday that, "This is a day that I hoped we would never see. We have been desperately trying to navigate from the day that we closed TD Place in March, through our many COVID-19 related challenges, to get to a happier time when we are back to making memories."
"Unfortunately, that day had not yet arrived and we need to reduce our staffing levels."
In the memo obtained by CTV News Ottawa, Goudie says the employees leaving OSEG will be placed on paid inactive leave for October at 100 per cent salary, and then their employment will be terminated effective Nov. 1. OSEG is committing to offer a further continuation of salary at 100 per cent until the end of November, or longer for those with longer tenure. Health and dental benefits will also be offered until the end of the calendar year.
Goudie tells employees that in April/May, OSEG re-cast its budget to reflect the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced expected revenues by over 50 per cent from $50 million.
"Our assumption at that time was that we would not see another ticketed event at TD Place in 2020. We forecasted that in early 2021, we would start getting back to some sort of 'normal' with hockey games and concerts at the arena," said Goudie, noting it was assumed the Redblacks and 67's would join three other sports tenants for events next spring, summer and fall.
"Current trends with increasing COVID-19 cases and the lack of progress toward the levels of gatherings that our business requires leaves me with very low confidence in those assumptions. I believe, despite significant cost containment measures which we have implemented to-date, that our revised financial plan is not achievable and this will result in a longer recovery period that will require even more money to be contributed by our OSEG owners.
Goudie says a smaller core group of TD Place staff will manage the OSEG Recovery Plan requirements, both in the short term and as they gradually return to pre-COVID-19 revenue levels.
"As an organization, we can’t just survive this pandemic," writes Goudie.
"Daunting as it may appear in this moment, we need to come out of it ready to thrive because Ottawa, our region and our four million plus visitors are relying on us to give them the best REDBLACKS, 67’s and other sports, music and entertainment experiences that we are able to when it is safe to do so."
Goudie says he will lay out OSEG's plan ahead on Thursday with the remaining staff members.
In March, OSEG announced part-time employees would not miss a paycheque due to COVID-19. All part-time employees with scheduled shifts for 67's games and other events at TD Place that were cancelled or postponed in March would be paid.