The operator says that while there have been recent positive developments in resuming services cut in March, many routes are still interrupted. This has resulted in a change in approach to mitigate the growing financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Via Rail had 3234 employees at the end of 2019.  

“The current year has been filled with unprecedented challenges,” says Via Rail president and CEO, Ms Cynthia Garneau. “First with the blockades in February and now with the ongoing pandemic, we have made every effort to protect our employees to the best of our abilities against the impact of the service reductions.

“Unfortunately, as we don’t anticipate ridership to be back to pre-Covid-19 levels in the foreseeable future, we have had to make difficult decisions to deal with the situation as we gain a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on our operations.”

Via Rail says it is aware that this is a very difficult situation for its employees and their families, and it will take care of them through the transition period.

The employees affected will receive a temporary written layoff notice, which respects the terms of their collective agreements.

The temporary layoffs will take effect on July 24.

Via Rail says it is continuing to work on advancing its service resumption plan as the situation evolves, with the objective of reintegrating its employees as soon as the customer demand allows.

The Halifax - Montréal and Toronto - Winnipeg - Jasper - Vancouver services have been suspended until November 1, while the Toronto - Niagara Falls - New York service is suspended until further notice. Most of Via Rail’s remaining services are operating at severely reduced frequencies.