‘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

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Free boxes of fresh produce are currently being provided in Quesnel by the Canadian Mental Health Association of Northern BC thanks to a donation from West Fraser Mills. (File photo)
Fresh produce available for those in need in Quesnel

Donation allows Canadian Mental Health Association to provide free fruits and veggies

Elizabeth Pete is a survivor of St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
WATCH: Kamloops bound convoy greeted by Canim Lake Band along Highway 97

Well over two dozen members of the Tsq’escenemc people (Canim Lake Band) showed up

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read