News Air Canada to lay off half its staff SHARE ON: Wendy Gray, staff Saturday, May. 16th, 2020 (Supplied by Pixabay) The airline, which has suffered crippling financial loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions, announced it will layoff 19,000 employees, but that number could reach 22,800. The layoffs are effective June 7th. In March the airline laid off over 16,000 staff only to hire them back under the Canada Wage Subsidy Benefit. The company has not committed to participating in the subsidy past June, even with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extending the program to the end of August. The union representing employees says it is in discussions with the airline to extend its participation in the subsidy program.