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Layoff Watch ’20: KPMG Canada Seems to Be Going On a Pink Slip Frenzy

[Updated with additional information.]

We’ve heard from a couple people on Tuesday morning who confirmed what we saw on Reddit last night about layoffs that have occurred at several different KPMG locations in Canada. Unconfirmed reports put the number of layoffs at around 200 throughout the country.

Here’s one message we got on the tipline earlier this morning:

Happened to me and a few others I know as well from different offices and service lines. Partner asked for a call and within 20 mins was completely locked out of the server and email, not given time to say goodbye to coworkers. Seems like the partners had somewhat of a script to go by as they fed us similar narratives about the business environment and client needs and such. None of us had ever had any performance complaints so it was pretty clearly related to cost cutting measures escalated down to majority of teams from the top. All layoffs I heard of were permanent rather than temporary. This happened to people from audit, tax and advisory service lines and in offices ranging from regional to big market.

From what was posted on Reddit last night, layoffs happened in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. Here’s a Reddit recap of the bad stuff going on north of the border:

[CAN] KPMG Canada lay-offs
byu/galacticspecop inAccounting

One Redditor commented in this thread: “The people I know that got laid off were a variety of people – not everyone had been held back before. Included was a 1st year Staff Accountant and a 2nd year Staff who had passed CFE and had good reviews.”

[CAN] Just got terminated from KPMG
by inAccounting

KPMG laid off a good amount of employees at their Toronto Location
byu/GWS68 inAccounting

One Redditor said they heard 40-plus audit staff got laid off in Toronto, including senior managers on down. This person also said some KPMGers in consulting and deal advisory also lost their jobs. We also got confirmation that people were laid off regardless of performance or years with the firm.

One tipster who lost their job told us they were blindsided by the layoffs:

“Yes unexpected and yes we were under the impression that letting people go would be a very last resort and they would do everything they could not to have to do that,” they said.

Then there was this comment on Reddit about KPMG in Vancouver:

They really made a SM run a Skype training session in the morning and then axed him a few hours later…

A Vancouver KPMG staffer who lost their job yesterday told us the whole thing “was very abrupt—none of the managers knew that I had been laid off. I was still getting meeting invites and had to explain to a few managers that I no longer worked there. They had no idea. It really makes me feel like they didn’t put any thought into it before deciding to lay us off.”

The ex-KPMGer got a call from a partner and was told that their employment had ended effective immediately and they had access to their computer until the end of the day.

“I was sent some forms to sign and was told a courier will be coming to pick up my computer, etc.,” the ex-KPMGer said. “Later that night, after I had already lost access to my email, a firmwide email was sent out talking about reduced work arrangements for those who volunteer to do so, the possibility of a salary cut across the firm, or temporary layoffs. The email sent out stressed that the layoffs would be temporary, not permanent. Of course this was sent out after they had already done the permanent layoffs.

“It seems like the Vancouver office jumped the gun on laying people off before this firmwide announcement was made?” they continued. “Or maybe they just wanted to get rid of some of us and use COVID 19 as an excuse.”

This is a really, really bad look for KPMG Canada, especially during a pandemic. If you were a KPMGer who was told to hit the bricks, or know a colleague who got a virtual pink slip, shoot us an email or a text with the details using the contact info below.