Organigram temporarily lays off 400 workers due to COVID-19

New Brunswick-based cannabis cultivator Organigram Holdings has temporarily laid off roughly 400 employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced late Monday.

That reduction represents about 45% of Organigram’s workforce.

The layoffs were made “primarily to help boost COVID-19 containment efforts” and the majority were voluntary, the company said in a news release.

Some workers, including those in “some administrative, support and other functions,” were laid off because they were considered nonessential in the short term.

“During this temporary period, Organigram expects to be faced with cultivation, harvest, production and packaging reductions but will also plan to supplement with inventories on hand to meet anticipated demand,” according to the release.

Production of unspecified Organigram products with higher manual labor requirements will be deprioritized as the company focuses “on leveraging automated and the most efficient lines of production.”

The company had warned about anticipated coronavirus-spurred layoffs in late March.

Organigram is not the first major Canadian cannabis producer to lay off staff in recent months.

Hexo cut its workforce by about 200 last October, and about 500 jobs were lost when Canopy Growth closed major B.C. greenhouses in March.

Organigram is due to report its second quarter earnings on April 14.

Shares of Organigram are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stock exchanges.

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