The Hudson’s Bay Company sign in downtown Toronto, Wednesday July 16, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Hudson’s Bay Company sign in downtown Toronto, Wednesday July 16, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Hudson’s Bay permanently laying off more than 600 workers across Canada

The permanent layoffs represent less than 5% of the company’s total workforce

Hudson’s Bay Co. is permanently laying off more than 600 workers across Canada amid ongoing store closures due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Nearly half the company’s department stores remain temporarily closed, said Tiffany Bourre, a spokeswoman for the iconic retailer.

“The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on non-essential retailers,” she said in an emailed statement. “Due to these circumstances beyond our control, the company has had to make adjustments which have resulted in a reduction in workforce.”

The permanent layoffs represent less than five per cent of the company’s total workforce, Bourre said.

She added that it was “an incredibly tough decision” and that HBC is committed to treating each individual affected with fairness and respect during these difficult times.

Yet employment lawyer Lior Samfiru said his firm has been contacted by about 40 HBC workers concerned about the terms of their termination.

READ ALSO: Landlords sue Hudson’s Bay for unpaid rent, retailer says malls aren’t ‘first class’

Samfiru, a partner with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, said the terminated workers he has spoken with claim they are not being offered adequate severance, and such a situation could be considered a wrongful dismissal.

The employees have received a so-called working notice, he said, which means they are expected to work until their termination date.

Yet he calls such a notice when stores aren’t open and employees can’t work “absurd,” and said HBC should be providing payment in lieu of notice.

Samfiru said his law firm will be engaging HBC on behalf of terminated employees to ensure “they get what they’re owed.”

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Meanwhile, he said the workers, both part-time and full-time, have worked for the retailer for between 10 and 30 years, predominantly in sales and middle management at stores in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.

READ ALSO: Victoria Hudson’s Bay referenced in legal petition against Penticton store

He says some workers have mentioned specifically a “national restructuring.”

Non-essential retailers have been hammered during the pandemic, with stores across the country closed or facing strict capacity restrictions.

Last month, HBC asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to review the province of Ontario’s decision to temporarily close non-essential retailers.

A lawyer for the department store retailer said the province’s regulations make no “rational distinction” between the department store and some of the big box and discount retailers which are allowed to remain open.

The court dismissed HBC’s bid to amend Ontario’s retail lockdown rule, but questioned what it called the “wisdom and efficacy”’ of the province’s lockdown measures.

In its decision, a panel of the court’s judges said allowing big box stores that happen to sell groceries to remain fully open — potentially generating more customer traffic — is “open to question.”

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Business

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

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Alberni Valley’s Emergency Operations Centre is located around the corner and below the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District office. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District tests new mobile alert system

Residents can still sign up for free Voyent Alert! emergency messaging

Crews respond to a structure fire in the 6000 block of Renton Road in Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Workshop destroyed in Cherry Creek fire

Crews stayed on scene overnight fighting ‘stubborn’ blaze

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Tax error in 2020 means lower rate for residents in 2021

Alberni’s taxation for regional library accidently written down twice

Part of a new housing development proposal for the former Alberni District Secondary School site. (SCREENSHOT)
Housing gap widens in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island city suffers from ‘missing middle’ to housing density

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read