Calgary Flames make the wrong choice in refusing to pay employees during COVID-19 pandemic

There’s been a lot made about the “cursed” season that has been the 2019-20 Calgary Flames.

Some of it is normal hockey stuff, like contract holdouts and losing streaks. Some of it is hockey (and pro sports in general) no longer being an old boys’ club that tolerates racism throughout. Some of it has been bizarre medical occurrences, from TJ Brodie’s fainting episode to the current suspension due to COVID-19.

Those incidents though might be karmic retribution though for the major decisions that ownership has made at the expense of Calgarians. The latest of which is refusing to pay their employees during a pandemic, which is a downright indefensible move.

News broke late Friday night that the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) would not be paying any of their employees for cancelled shifts due to COVID-19 with the exception of March 12th shifts they legally had to.

For a company that owns the Flames – as well as the Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Roughnecks, who have also seen their seasons suspended – this affects hundreds of employees who likely depend on that income pay for rent, as well as supplies for the recommended self-isolation beyond just hoarding toilet paper for some reason.

Many owners (and even players) have been stepping up across the National Hockey League as well as the National Basketball Association to pay for their employees. While it is nice that the players have been doing this (worker solidarity forever), it truly is the responsibility of ownership across the league to ensure their “corporate families” are protected and not just seen as a means to an end.

It isn’t just CSEC that is abandoning their employees. News is still trickling out about which teams will and won’t be paying their employees, although there is hard confirmation that the CSEC is taking the road less costly. It’s a terrible look for billionaire ownership group Murray Edwards, Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, and Jeffrey McCaig who negotiated their way into a $290 million gift from the City of Calgary for their new arena.

You know, because this is a group that is good for Calgarians and the arena was necessary to the livelihood of Calgary?

This is just another fantastic reminder that while sports can be good and fun, it is irresponsible to pretend like they aren’t just another political battleground, and it is probably time for the people of Calgary to voice their discontent with the way that CSEC has been taking advantage of Calgarians for a long time now.

May the employees that are being crippled from this selfish decision find power and support and may the community be able to reverse this decision as to not make the coronavirus crisis become intensified in unnecessary ways.

And may this not all be forgotten should the Calgary Flames make the playoffs and ownership is able to skate by unaffected, ready to threaten to move the team to Houston at the drop of a hat if basic human decency is asked of the billionaires.

Photo by daniel0685/Flickr

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