Shaw Communications Inc. announced late Tuesday it is temporarily laying off 10 per cent of its workforce due to the consequences of government measures designed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Calgary-based company said the cuts, which will begin Thursday, are primarily taking place in its retail and sales departments.

"Government leaders across the country have taken significant and necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of Canadians and to limit the spread of the virus," said Shaw president Paul McAleese in a release. "These measures have resulted in dramatic shortages or stoppages of work in specific areas of our business where we have had to make the hard decisions being announced".

In its release, Shaw said it isn't eligible for the emergency aid programs that have been rolled out by the federal government, and plans to tap its own funds to top-up employment insurance for the affected employees. It said benefits will also be extended to those employees.

According to Shaw’s most recent annual report, it has approximately 10,000 employees. A spokesperson for Shaw confirmed to BNN Bloomberg that fewer than 1,000 employees will be affected by the temporary layoffs. 

There have been other recent signs of the pandemic's impact on Canada's telecommunications giants. Last week, Bell said 6,000 of its workers have either seen their work significantly reduced or put on hold. A spokesperson for Bell indicated at the time that as many as 800 of those employees could be temporarily laid off.

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