‘Will I ever have the money to pay bills?’ Canadian retail worker faces 3rd layoff in April

Joyce Garant has worked since she was 15 years old, but in the span of the last 13 months she’s been laid off three times

Joyce Garant, a beauty adviser for Clinique makeup and skincare at Hudson’s Bay department store. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joyce Garant

Joyce Garant, a beauty adviser for Clinique makeup and skincare at Hudson’s Bay department store. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joyce Garant

Joyce Garant has worked since she was 15 years old.

Her first job was as a hostess for McDonald’s before she became a dress store manager. Then in 1987, she was hired at the Hudson’s Bay in her hometown of Windsor, Ont.

“I’ve always had a job,” she said. “Even when I had my son, back then you only got 16 weeks and I went back early.”

But in the span of the last 13 months, Garant has been laid off three times — including last month when she was among the 84,000 retail workers to lose their job.

Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 207,000 jobs in April as a new surge in COVID-19 infections led to renewed public health measures that closed businesses.

The retail sector was hit hardest, with stricter restrictions on the operation of non-essential stores implemented in Ontario, Alberta and several regions of Quebec, according to the national statistics gathering agency.

Among those who lost their job was Garant. The beauty adviser for Clinique makeup and skincare at Hudson’s Bay department store has been laid off with each wave of COVID-19.

“Financially it’s been really rough,” she said. “I pushed back my mortgage and car payments, which in the end will cost me more in interest, and then I started to resort to using credit cards to pay hydro and gas until the money came in.”

While Garant said she’s lucky — the Bay continued to pay her medical benefits throughout her layoffs — she said she faced long delays obtaining employment insurance, deepening her credit card debt.

The 57-year-old retail worker said she was still paying off debt from her second layoff when she was laid off a third time in April.

“We just got back up and running and then we have shut down again,” Garant said. “You get behind on things and it’s stressful. I just wonder, ‘Will I ever have the money to pay bills? Am I ever going to get out of the hole?’”

She said it’s frustrating that the restrictions don’t allow her to work and yet customers can buy the same cosmetics and skin care products at drugstores, which remain open for business.

“It’s really unfair,” Garant said. “People can go into a drugstore and buy my product but I can’t physically sell it.”

The retail veteran said she’ll be going back to work on Monday to do telephone sales.

“I work on a clientele basis, so I’ll be calling them to see if they need anything,” she said.

Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokeswoman with the Retail Council of Canada, said it’s not surprising that retail employment fell 3.8 per cent in April — far outpacing the overall drop in employment of 1.1 per cent.

“Non-essential retailers continue to be severely affected by shutdowns and lockdowns,” she said in an emailed statement. “In Ontario alone, non-essential retailers in some parts of the province have now been closed for a staggering 191 days since the beginning of the pandemic.”

With reduced sales, very little cash on hand and mounting debt, Wasylyshen said retailers have had to deal with unsold inventory while still buying new merchandise for the spring and summer shopping seasons.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read