WINDSOR, ONT. -- Hundreds of City of Windsor employees will be joining the ranks of workers across Canada filing for unemployment benefits.

Windsor city council made the decision Wednesday after a closed meeting and consultations with CUPE leadership.

“No decision that was made today frankly has anything to do with finding savings on the back of our employees,” says Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens. “Costs associated with the municipal response to COVID-19 include dozens of unbudgeted costs that far exceed any savings associated with these staff reductions.”

The workers impacted are those who are currently at home, but not working.

There are 541 staff members affected, including mostly indoor staff at temporarily closed facilities and frontline customer service reps.

“This was a challenging decision but the right one for our community at this time,” says Dilkens. “And I hope that every one of the individuals impacted will be back on board in due course.”

The mayor met with the heads of CUPE local 82 and 543, who represent both the city’s indoor and outdoor workers to hash out a memorandum of understanding.

At the same time, 250 employees who were sent home, will be called back to support ongoing efforts to clean and screen at city facilities.

The city is also deploying technology to help employees work from home, while only 10-15 per cent of staff are coming into the office at a given time.

The workers on temporary layoff will be eligible for enhanced income support from the government.