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SYDNEY, N.S. — As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, essential stores are now in great need of essential employees.
Loblaws has announced substantial jobs not only at both the North Sydney and Sydney River Atlantic Superstores and three local Shoppers Drug Mart locations in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality but across the Atlantic region.
Mark Wilson, head of human resources for Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart, says they’ve had a number of colleagues needing to stay home for a number of reasons including childcare with daycares closed, travel and personal health situations.
“Our supply chain is strong and we’re going to keep it that way,” he said. “We know people are relying on our stores to be open, stocked and ready to serve. In order to keep things running smoothly, we need a full team in stores and distribution centres. We also need to be able to give our current team a break.”
As well, Wilson said their supply chain is moving quickly and people’s shopping patterns have changed. People have been stocking up and making more use of the PC Express online option, allowing them to pick up their order in the parking lot.
“That means there are additional staff required to do other jobs,” he said. “In addition to this, we want to ease the load of our current store colleagues as they’ve been working very hard, with long hours to ensure we are providing quality service, while at the same time ensuring that our stores are a safe place to shop.”
Wilson said they are inviting people to apply and they’ll reach out if they need a hand re-stocking, supporting customers or just pitching in.
As well, in this difficult time the country is battling the COVID-19 and many businesses are forced to close down, Wilson said they know there are some people out there who are looking for work.
“We’ve reached out to the retail industry and to many large employers who have been impacted during this time,” he said.
“We don’t know how much help we’ll need or where, but if there are people looking to be employed and paid right now maybe we can help each other out.”
In the meantime, heightened precautions are in place for all their staff and customers, including plexiglass added at the cash registers to create a barrier. There are hand washing and sanitizer stations at all of their entrances. As well, they are only taking cash at the customer service desk rather than the regular lineups.
Wilson praised their teams and leaders in stores and distribution centres, commenting they have gone above and beyond so that Canadians can stay well fed and healthy. As a show of their appreciation, the company has introduced a temporary pay premium of $2 an hour to their existing hourly and salaried employees.
“This is for all of our frontline and distribution centre colleagues, regardless of their union affiliation,” he added.
Anyone wishing to apply for a job with Loblaws is asked to do so online at https://www.loblawjobs.ca/
Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaws, said all their stores times have been adjusted to include 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for seniors or anyone vulnerable and for the general public they are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We are closing a bit earlier than normal to give colleagues time to rest and so we can clean and sanitize, he said.
Boudreau said they are seeing increased activity in the stores but it seems to be settling down a bit. As known, the big products in demand have been Lysol wipes, toilet paper, disinfectants and sanitizers.
“We are starting to catch up on stock,” he added.
Boudreau said they are asking the public to take all the precautions in place by the province, shopping alone, not going out if feeling sick or if they have a cold.
Meanwhile, Felicia Fefer, a spokesperson for Walmart Canada, said they want to immediately hire 10,000 more associates for their stores and distribution centres across Canada including at the Sydney and Sydney River stores in Cape Breton. Interested applicants should visit http://careers.walmart.ca/.
In an email response to questions, Fefer said they know the COVID-19 is top of mind for Canadians across the country.
In the meantime, Fefer said Walmart is monitoring the situation very closely, adhering to guidance from public health authorities and taking several decisive actions in this time of uncertainty.
“Our primary focus is the health and wellness of our associates, our customers and our communities,” she said.
“We have increased cleaning in the store and have associates dedicated to cleaning key areas throughout the day.”