Thursday, November 16, 2023

Montreal archdiocese cuts staff by 20 per cent


In a surprise announcement, Montreal’s archdiocesan office was hit with a 20-per-cent reduction of its workforce on Nov. 4.

Receiving notice of the layoffs in the morning, 20 staff from a range of departments, including communications, faith education and youth ministry, were asked to clear their desks and say their good-byes by end of day.

A Nov. 4 email from Vicars General Alain Faubert and Charles Langlois to all staff and parishes cites the “financial challenges the archdiocese has been facing for several years now” as the reason for the “last resort” decision to “temporarily lay off some of our valued employees.”

The layoff is expected to last “at least” five months.

Though a $14.8 million settlement between the Archdiocese and class-action members in a historic sexual abuse case was approved in July, Episcopal Vicar Fr. Raymond Lafontaine said it was not the direct cause for the financial crisis.

“Basically, this reflects the fact that our receipts are way down, and our disbursements have not reduced in proportion to that decline. We have been living beyond our means for a number of years,” said Lafontaine.

“We’ve been told for over a year that the financial situation is tight and that we needed to be ready for the possibility of cutbacks. Nevertheless, Friday’s news came as a shock.”

The archdiocesan annual fundraising campaign has seen a steady decline in recent years. In 2017, the campaign raised $1.6 million, whereas this past year only netted half that amount.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we will be actively working to improve our financial situation, while reflecting, in the longer term, on the reconfiguration of our diocesan services,” wrote Faubert and Langlois.

“We are seeking innovative ways to enable us, with reduced resources, to effectively support our Archbishop and thus contribute with him to the mission of our Church, in the Greater Montreal area.”