After being involved in a political controversy since the Trudeau government selected the charity to run a now-abandoned student-volunteer program, WE Charity is scaling back its operations and making dozens of layoffs both here in Canada and abroad, while also looking to sell some of its real estate holdings in Toronto.

The Toronto-based charity says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been forced to cancel all WE Day activities globally, which has led to the need to "refocus" the charity,  including reorganizing its staffing structure and shift programming.

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"We informed our staff about some of the changes that we are anticipating at WE CharityWe have taken a thoughtful and careful approach to making the best decisions possible under extremely challenging circumstances," said Dalal Al-Waheidi, Executive Director, WE Charity, in a statement.

At its global headquarters in Toronto, 16 full-time employees will be laid off and another 51 employees working on fixed-term contracts with the charity won’t have their contracts renewed when they expire at the end of the month.

Additionally, WE Charity’s UK operations will be centralized within the global Head Quarters in Canada, which means 19 full-time and contract employees in London will be laid off.

As a result of these changes, the charity says it will need to right-size its physical office space in order to support the new staff structure.

In addition, in recognition of its 25th anniversary, the organization started a process to acquire additional real estate in one single block near Moss Park in Toronto to open a “Campus for Good”. Its purpose was to provide free space for youth-led not-for-profits and social enterprises to incubate their missions. Al-Waheidi says the charity is no longer advancing this project.

Al-Waheidi says the charity plans to keep its headquarters, known as the Global Learning Centre, on Queen Street in Toronto, but other real estate holdings will be assessed by the organization to determine which ones could be sold.

"These were not easy decisions to make. We have a very hard working and dedicated team in North America and the UK and over 100 staff leading our international development work overseas. We are grateful and thankful for the contribution they have made around the world," said Al-Waheidi. 

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