OrganiGram Holdings, Inc. (TSX: OGI) is the latest Canadian cannabis company to cut staffing levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily laying off almost half its workforce this week.
The New Brunswick producer said late Monday it will be temporarily cutting 45 per cent of its staff — which represents roughly 400 employees — to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The company offered voluntary layoffs, which the majority of staff agreed to. Remaining employees can voluntarily leave too, OrganiGram said.
“These are unprecedented and trying times,” OrganiGram CEO Greg Engel said in a statement. “Our priority right now is to make sound strategic decisions that are in the best interests of our people and which will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the company.”
The company said it plans to keep a core group of experienced staff on board at its Moncton facility in order to keep a number of production and packing lines operating. This will help it meet short term Canadian market demand, and any reduction to inventory will be supplemented from outside sources, it added.
Organigram joins Canopy, Flowr with issuing temporary layoffs
Medical cannabis patients can continue ordering products through OrganiGram’s online and telephone services, and those items will continue to be delivered, according to the release.
The company said it’s comfortable with its current inventory levels from external suppliers for things like vaporizer products and to date has seen no disruption to supply chains.
OrganiGram began a round of temporary layoffs March 24 for staff that were deemed non-essential due to COVID-19 impacts.
The company is offering lump-sum payments to laid off employees and will also absorb health, dental and short-term disability benefits payments during the pandemic, according to the release.
Organigram is among several Canadian weed companies to significantly reduce staff due to COVID-19. Last month, B.C.-based producer Flowr Corp. (TSX-V: FLWR) said it reduced staff by 25 per cent — representing about 70 workers. Meanwhile, pot giant Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) said it had to temporarily cut 200 retail staff, according a BNN Bloomberg report.
Organigram said it has been following protocols issued by provincial and federal Canadian public health authorities for staff at its facilities, and continues to monitor the evolving situation.
The company said it will proceed with the launch of its two vape cartridge brands by the end of June, but it expects delays in the release of its Ankr Organics and powerdered beverage products.
Organigram is scheduled to report it second quarter results April 14 at 8:00 A.M Eastern Time.
Top image via Organigram