OTTAWA -- WestJet has written to the federal government to seek an exemption from labour rules that require a 16-week notice of termination as the airline looks to lay off a large swath of its workforce.

In the letter obtained by CTV News, the company’s Executive Vice President of People and Culture Mark Porter says due to "unprecedented circumstances" as a result of COVID-19, the company expects to permanently reduce its workforce by 50 people or more, triggering Division IX of the Canada Labour Code.

Among other guidelines, Division IX states that in circumstances of group termination within a four-week period, a 16- week notice – as opposed to two weeks – must be given to employees and to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.

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