‘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

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read