How MLSE will compensate its event staff with no games being played

Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet signs autographs for young basketball players at the MLSE LaunchPad in Toronto on Friday, July 6, 2018. (Tijana Martin/CP)

In addition to the effects on players and fans, the suspension of the NHL, NBA and MLS seasons due to the threat of spreading the COVID-19 virus will impact the part-time and hourly event staff who help make the gameday experience what it is — many of whom face financial insecurity amid the leagues’ uncertain timelines for returning to action.

Several owners and organizations as a whole have stepped up to help their employees during this time of need, including Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment – ownership group of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC.

In a statement obtained by Sportsnet, new details about MLSE’s plan for their workers have been revealed.

“Anyone who is affected by this temporary halt in our operations will receive a financial payment from MLSE to bridge employees between their [Employment Insurance] benefits and 95 per cent of their regular average earnings (the maximum allowed by Service Canada for them to be eligible for full EI benefit) for four weeks,” an emailed statement from MLSE reads.

“Those employees who do not qualify for EI benefits will be paid the equivalent MLSE top-up portion.”

Athletes from all over the sports world have also pitched in to help provide financial aid for event staff.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin all pledged to donate $100,000 to help affected workers in their respective home arenas, and Zion Williamson committed to pay the next month of salaries for Smoothie King Center employees in New Orleans.

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