Gateway Casinos & Entertainment will have to protect its casino staff members across Ontario, as their employee benefits are going to expire at the end of this month. Some 105 individuals associated with Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie approach next month with a level of uncertainty when it comes to their income and employment.
The situation across Ontario remains uncertain when it comes to in-person casino gaming and all the benefits coming with it. Casino staff members have been in this uncertain situation for almost five months now, ever since brick-and-mortar casino venues closed for business mid-March. There are 105 individuals employed both full-time and part-time at the casino hotspot that are unionized. Their labor union seeks protection for its members.
The United Steelworkers is the labor union protecting these individuals and seeking their best interests at all times. Nearly five months after the start of lockdown, these people remain unsure whether their benefits will be paid come September. August 31 is the final date of their employee benefits payments. Marc Ayotte, area coordinator for Local 8748-18, recently pointed out that an extension would be needed.
It could be recalled that at the end of June, the labor union protecting casino members had a frank conversation with the casino operator overseeing this and many more casino locations across Canada. The negotiation aimed to extend employee benefits payments until the end of August with the option of renegotiation once the date arrives. The uncertainty of the situation called for flexibility and extension.
The labor union would like to see an extension of the employee benefits past the end of August, as this will make it possible for casino staff members to prepare for the winter months ahead. Mr. Ayotte pointed out that some of the casino employees need special medication they would not be able to purchase without reliable benefits coming their way in the future.
Negotiations Can Commence Soon
For the time being, the casino operator overseeing the gaming location has neither confirmed nor denied that it has plans for extending the benefits payments over the upcoming months. Mr. Ayotte is still determined to get in touch with Gateway Casinos and to negotiate the most comprehensive extension package for the 105 unionized individuals depending on those efforts. In the meantime, many casino venues in Ontario hesitate to reopen.
It could be recalled that mid-June, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation made it clear that casino venues across the province have the right to relaunch their daily operation with all safety protocols in place. However, it also became clear that there are some limitations when it comes to the number of casino patrons that will be welcomed at the casino venues at the same time.
These restrictions have made it impossible for Gateway Casinos to reopen some of its casino locations to this day, as it is considered an unsustainable approach to the situation. The limited number of patrons would not provide enough gaming revenues to keep the venues afloat in the long run, doing more harm than good.