The NHL's "pause" due to coronavirus (COVID-19) fears has caused many arenas across North America to shut down, and on Friday the owners of the Calgary Flames reportedly notified hourly and event employees that they would not be paid for canceled shifts.
Less than 48 hours later, they changed their minds.
After public backlash, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) announced Sunday a compensation program for part-time employees.
"It has been a very challenging week for all of us. We may not get everything right, out of the gate, but we can assure you that we will continue to work hard to do what is right for all of our Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation family," CSEC president and CEO John Bean said. "Subsequent to the release of our previous communication, we have obtained a number of additional pieces of information including communicating directly with many part-time employees. This has prompted us to reach out to you today and advise that we will now be adopting an income bridge support group for qualifying employees."
According to the Calgary Herald, CSEC sent an email on Friday to workers of the Scotiabank Saddledome — home of the Flames, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks; all teams owned by CSEC — stating that they would not be paid for shifts beyond the March 12 date that saw the indefinite postponement of many leagues around the world.
“Unless notified by your supervisor, all scheduled shifts are cancelled. CSEC will pay for your March 12, 2020 shift if you were scheduled to work as the notice of cancellation was less than the 24 hours required by Alberta Employment Standards. Any shifts on March 13, 2020 and beyond must be pre-approved by your supervisor,” the original email reportedly stated. “Alberta Employment Standards requires that employers provide 24 hours’ notice for cancellation of scheduled shifts. CSEC will pay employees where the notification of cancellation was less than 24 hours. No payment will be made for shifts cancelled with greater than 24 hours’ notice.”
The move came at a time when several other ownership groups — and even some players — around the NHL and NBA had publicly stated they will be covering the wages of venue employees during the shutdown, at least in the short term. The CSEC's bucking of that trend triggered a negative backlash on social media, which may have triggered the Flames owners' reversal of their original decision.
Sporting News' Sam Ficarro contributed to this story.