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Termination notices go out to 44 staff at city; Bloedel layoffs on hold for now

January 22nd, 2010 · 37 Comments

Yikes. The email that can really wreck your day or life went out yesterday at city hall. I’m just digesting this, but will post it for now. Welcome your comments. I do note here that it appears that the city has managed to avoid about half of the planned layoffs.

From:    COV Broadcast Server    Sent:           Thu 1/21/2010 5:32 PM
To:     All Staff (COV) – DL
Subject:        CoV Broadcast: ALL STAFF EMAIL
View As Web Page

January 21, 2010
On December 18, 2009, Council approved the proposed 2010 budget. In that budget, staff recommended three ways to meet our budget shortfall:

o A combination of revenue increases
o Strategic implementation of Vancouver Services Review (VSR) programs which will provide some savings
o A number of service level adjustments

In our December 1, 2009 report to Council, we estimated that approximately 167 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in the organization would be impacted by these strategies with approximately 109 FTEs coming from service adjustments and 58 associated with VSR strategies.  At that time, we committed to communicating those impacts to staff as soon as possible, and today I can give you more information.

The VSR is currently in the early stages of implementing some of the Council approved projects and at this time there are no VSR related position impacts.

Our goal has always been to have as few people as possible leave our organization by finding alternative positions within the City for impacted staff.  In December, we estimated 109 positions would be impacted through service adjustments.  Since we tabled the budget, Engineering has identified an additional 12 positions due to a decreased work load in Equipment Services.  This brings the total number of positions potentially impacted by service adjustments to approximately 120.

The service adjustments identified in the budget for three areas — the Bloedel Conservatory, Children’s Farmyard and the Graphics department — are currently on hold at this time as there is more work to be done related to Council and Board direction to pursue opportunities for alternate sources of funding and/or partnerships.  The number of FTEs potentially impacted at a future date is approximately 10.

Our Vacancy Management Committee, composed of a number of senior level leaders from across the organization, has been working in partnership with managers to identify further opportunities for potential placements of impacted staff.  Through this work, we have been able to reduce the total number of impacted staff from approximately 120 to less than half that number.  We hope that we can further minimize the impact in the following months.

Today, 44 staff will be receiving 60 day notification that their position with the City is being eliminated as a result of service adjustments.  This is not a layoff notice under the Collective Agreement; rather it is Section 64 notice under the Employment Standards Act.  Section 64 requires 60 day notice when there are 50 or more employees in one location being terminated.

While the number of employees being impacted at any one location is much lower than 50, we feel the 60 days gives impacted staff and managers additional time to consider and evaluate other opportunities within the organization.

To be clear, our goal is to have as few people leave the organization as possible, and we will work with the Vacancy Management Committee, managers and Unions to find new opportunities that may arise for any impacted employees. We will continue to communicate regularly with you as the different phases of this work unfold.

Communicating this kind of news at any time is not easy, and some people will question why we are doing this so close to the Olympics. We have discussed this at length and it is clear that uncertainty is one of the most demoralizing aspects to changes like this.  Given that we communicated the likelihood of staff impacts in December, many employees have been working in a state of uncertainty since then.  We felt strongly that we needed to provide the information regarding job impact as soon as our analysis was complete.

We have informed the Unions who have impacted members of this decision, and we are working closely with them to make sure that our actions honour our statutory and Collective Agreement obligations.

While the number of impacted staff at this time is much smaller than was expected, we will continue to strive over the next few months to reduce it even more. What I can tell you is that we are going to support our employees through this time.  Our HR transition team will work with impacted employees, their managers and the Human Resource Consultants to ensure our employees receive the support and guidance they need.

I know all of you will support your colleagues impacted by these challenges.  We have attached a document with FAQs and if you have any further questions please, reach out to your manager or Human Resources Consultant. For managers with staff who do not have access to email please print off this document and post it in your common areas.

Penny Ballem

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Van Centre

    This happens every day in the private sector. Is there any reason to get our panties in a knot about it happening just once in the public sector?

  • gmgw

    Is it known yet which departments will be shedding these positions? And, in addition, is it known how many, if any, of these 44 positions are exempt (i.e. managerial)?

  • landlord

    I like the jargon : “impacted”. Call a dentist.

  • previous insider

    Its true, staff at all levels have been sitting on pins and needles waiting to know if they have a job. The 60 day notice probably has more to do with needing the olympic “volunteers” than abiding by Section 64, especially since its not required – but looks good on the City.

    The real cuts need to be at the middle and mid-senior management level – not at the service level. For example, Community Services has 4 levels of mid – senior management (GM, Deputy GM, Department head, and Directors/Assist Directors) with pays scales of $125,ooo plus, plus at the bottom rung. Engineering has the same or more levels. These contribute to the slow-as-molasses rate of change and a demoralization of lower level staff.

    Additionally, many of the staff at management level are useless having reached their level of incompetence. Highly talented and motivated staff who work under these managers cannot get much done. The VSR (service review) was a waste of time and money – the corporate management team reviewed staff input and directed the final report to the City Manager thus editing out any criticism about their inefficiencies – thus saving their own high paid useless positions.

    If the City Manager and Council really want to see change, they need to overhaul management, not service staff.

  • Living in the City

    I don’t know that if anybody knows the official numbers yet, but the notice CUPE15 put out gives some clues (

    According to the notice 2 of the 44 positions are exempt, and 28 are CUPE15 (Parks, inside workers) so presumably the remaining 14 are mostly/entirely in the operations branches? I don’t think the Library is actually cutting staff, just hours.

  • Anon

    44 positions are eliminated from people who were ACTUALLY DOING THEIR JOB.

    we will work with the Vacancy Management Committee, managers and Unions to find new opportunities

    What about laying off 44 Managers?
    And without a severance of a few hundred thousand $$$

  • mary

    Landlord gets the gold star for humour; Previous Insider gets the gold star for analysis.
    What you didn’t post Frnces (maybe you didn’t get it) is the FAQ that accompanied the e-letter from Penny Ballem. It makes reference to people leaving “the company”. Leaving one to wonder if it was cribbed from a website somewhere ( for example), written by some gormless HR consultant, or just more evidence that people at the top don’t have a clue about the organization they supposedly run.

  • previous insider

    “We will work with the Vacancy Management Committee, managers and Unions to find new opportunities” refers to bumping front-line staff with less seniority.

    Two excluded staff? what a shame!

  • Living in the City

    It’s interesting that the termination notice was issued immediately after everybody had been assigned their Games-time assignments and schedules, and the 30-day layoff notices are coming immediately after the Games, on March 1st or shortly thereafter.

    I’m sure there’s absolutely no correlation there though.

  • gimme a break!

    Give me a break! While there are some excellent workers in the union AND exempt staff, both sides have the dead wood…FOR SURE!!!

  • Westender

    Van Centre, the difference in this situation is that we, as taxpayers, are essentially shareholders in the City of Vancouver. Most of us advised during the budget consultations that we were comfortable with reasonable tax increases to protect services. The current council ignored the will of the electorate and adopted a budget that requires reductions in staff and services. So yes, I do want the media coverage on these staff reduction – they affect my life more than a similar reduction in the private sector.

  • Shirl

    $8.5 million to replace rail lines between Granville Island & the Olympic Village … itself costing taxpayers tens of millions.

    $650,000 for banners during the Olympics.

    $13 million for the 311 system – proven in other cities such as Winnipeg to be ineffective and wasteful.

    I could go on.


    The City of Vancouver is rotten to the core.

  • Anon

    I work for parksboard and heard about several colleagues losing their jobs yesterday after years of loyal service- As “Westender” stated your taxes pay for the recreation centres, the fields, pools, etc.
    Expect to see a real drop in services and programs. You will see less youth workers who impact how many youth use the centre instead of hanging out on the streets. Privatization is just beginning to rear it’s ugly head.
    The city has become a tax grabbing cash cow.
    They use property taxes, meters, parking lots, development permits and anything that spells the word Revenue!
    If you don’t believe me – stand on any main street and look around! Highrise buildings, construction; Demolishing decent buildings.
    Heck, you can’t even take an elderly relative to a park without paying for a parking spot.
    Stanley Park Farmyard has gone, Bloedel almost. Anything that is free will become a privilege. That is unless you are a city manager or a Vanoc member!

  • Lovin BC

    Hmmm, let me see if I’ve got this right. CUPE backs Vision and the termination of one of the most respected and competent City Managers in Canada. A backyard chicken love’n, joy juice make’n Mayor and friends get in and hire a blood letting CAO at a huge expense to us taxpayers (who nanomanages her workforce to the point that she can’t see the forest for the trees, grinds the bureaucracy to a snails pace and looses all respect of her managers) and then stabs their Union brotherhood underwriters in the back. Yup, I think I’ve got it right. This must be BC.

  • jimmy olson

    The Legacy begins …

  • West End Gal

    These layoffs are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. One year from now, long after the Olympic dust has settled, new jobs are going to sprang up. And then, the second Hollyhock echelon and their affiliated members are going to “apply” for them and then get hired. Vision legacy? Top management jobs, check. Middle management jobs, check. The people who actually do the job, future check. I am so disgusted and outraged that if I’ll never see again these despicable Visionaries it would be too soon.

  • Blurry Vision

    Hmmm, let me see if I’ve got this right. CUPE backs Vision and the termination of one of the most respected and competent City Managers in Canada. A backyard chicken love’n, joy juice make’n Mayor and friends get in and hire a blood letting CAO at a huge expense to us taxpayers (who nanomanages her workforce to the point that she can’t see the forest for the trees, grinds the bureaucracy to a snails pace and looses all respect of her managers) and then stabs their Union brotherhood underwriters in the back. Yup, I think I’ve got it right. This must be BC.

  • gasp


    You’re right, and Vancouver is now becoming known as the GREED CAPITAL.

  • Rebecca

    Let’s not start bashing the managers..sigh!!! Getting a little weary of hearing that story over and over again. There are good people on both sides of the coin..union and exempt so maybe know what you’re talking about first, Anon…

  • Edward

    I’ll vote Vision next time if they’ll direct media relations to stop using “impacted” when they mean “affected”.

  • Anon

    Rebecca – If, it was only city of vancouver managers we were bashing perhaps I’d agree with you.
    It is the senior managers and committees who decide this.
    However Legal Services Society, where my partner worked for 12 years – was laid off along with all the other family clinic lawyers.
    And these lawyers were doing all the work with disabled, single parents, etc…
    Legal Services having now made redundant, all the hands on staff, is now run by managers who concoct all kinds of little committees to do stuff around the province. Legal Aid has gone.
    It is the senior managers and committees who decide this. and this is the sad truth. We are becoming corporate – managers managing manager.

    Do you know why the city was running so smoothly during the strike 2 years ago??
    Because 150 (non union) managers were running it.
    Read Your facts Rebecca – available at all vancouver public libraries – sigh that is, if the library is open when you need it. Yet another service (non managerial).

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of the Day

    “I think it would only be fair to end this where it (was) all (concocted) started…so, the best way that I see, to deal with the miserable thoughts of not having a job anymore, with the City, would be for all 44 laid off employees, to buy a “Tranquillity” package on the serene Cortes Island. And while there, to go wild!”

    Good old Confucius, a dear friend of mine, penned it just right for the occasion: “don’t do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you”.
    Hmmm, who would have thought he said that 2510 years ago! And no, it was not an Olympic year. How things change…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Cops have boom cannons they promise not to use?

    Planner enable but, sure as hell, not us!

    “Everything will be alright!”

    Huh! Did he spend C$5,000/day to Holly-rock?

    Yes, everything will be alright . . .

    “The legacy begins . . . ” Jimmy O! Phew mate you got that right!

    And thu Hall ain’t seen nothing yet!

    “We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.” Complements GR . . .

  • PS . . . gasp . . . “You’re right . . . “Vancouver is now becoming known as the GREED CAPITAL.”

    But hey . . . “is becoming” I been in this for sixty years and its always been . . .

    What gets me is why are we so ready to roll over? Why are we so ready to politely defer to “authority” when these guys are supposed to defer to us?

    VANCOUVER . . . the piratical desecration of a once socially responsible community . . . and essentially we did it to ourselves because we are too panty-waist to stand up for what we believe in . . . Ojala . . .

  • PPS

    . . . For a decade we gave pyschotic Dr. Doggie Run his head to strut his school-yard bully stuff . . .

    We listened to Little Gordo pedal his frenzied way, always with that phuccin’ smirk on his face, to . . . errr . . . paradise

    And look where it got us . . .

    Jeezess we still cannot admit we’ve bin’ hosed . . .

    And those guys are still loose to do their thing on impressionable minds . . .

    Yup! Thu legacy is just beginning . . .

    No sireee! You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet . . . but hey we live in paradisio . . .

  • David

    This is really sad. Too much ego around hiring individual the”Stars-Gods” like “Penny Ballem-up-and-thro-them-out” and um “Ms Empty”. The time of gods is over we just need regular leaders who work well with everyone. ( Ballem makes $303,000 – which is considerably more than the CEO of BC Hydro. Ms. Impey CFO maxed out at $223,969 and the benefits are sick:
    * Ms. Impey will be receiving benefit entitlements reflecting 20 years of service

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    It’s never easy losing your job, so sure, this really sucks. But c’mon people, after two decades of livin’ large in this city, are you all seriously saying that the City staff hadn’t become bloated, silo-bound, and duplicitous? We bitch about wasted money all the time, but payroll is usually the biggest single expense of any organization – it always gets cut in recessions. And there has already been a well-debated turnover in management. So let’s get real here: the world isn’t ending!

  • Hey, GJG . . . this is when your reasonable transmogs. to unreasonable.

    I’ve no time for the over-paid, arrogant, up stairs, incompetent management, and most of them are . . . but . . .

    Many Hallistas have kids, mortgages, yunno Zorba’s . . . whole catastrophe.

    The Dr., who should be delivering babies, has been talking retrenchment for the last year yet she goes on a high-end, apparently-out-of-control, out-of-town hiring spree as though this town is full of drop-outs.

    I hoped big-time for Mayor Gregor but so far he’s comin’ on empty and we haven’t even got into the Olympic postpartums . . .

    We talk lots about DTES, homeless and social housing and rightly so . . .

    But there are a lot who slip under the radar . . . marginal families struggling to meet next month’s mortgage and get the kids fed and off to school . . . then heading to that second job . . . and I’ll bet a not few of them are Hallistas!

  • Denis

    I guess the alternative would be to increase taxes just a bit to save those jobs. Nobody enjoys getting canned . Many of us have been through that little excercise. It’s especailly tough when it’s not the individuals fault, even thoguh most affected sure get that feeling in a hurry. I do feel for the ones leaving and hopefully there is a place for them in the system

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Urbanismo, I empathize with anyone struggling to get by, believe me! And while I agree with your comment about the Chicago hiring and those who think Impey’s terms being questionable, it hardly equates to an “out-of-town hiring spree”. You know I’d love to see the thugs managing Planning get gassed, who wasted millions on View Corridor and HAHR to push a rotten agenda, and now are quoted saying they “don’t care” what the outcome is! (And not a peep about the council meetings last week here?!) But I stand by my comments about the general largesse that has bloated Hall staff over the last two decades, and feel this was a necessary move, however difficult or unpopular it may be.

  • Planning Thug

    Hey GJG don’t worry! Some of us planning thugs got canned and others beat a hasy retreat having read the writing on the wall. Yes it was painful and yes we did the best damn job we could. Real livelyhoods were and are affected.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Planning Thug, above it’s noted only 2 managers were given notice out of these 44. Are you one of those 2? Were you a managerial driving force behind HAHR and View Corridors? Do you think they were worth the millions spent?

    You did the best job you could, but you and/or others in your department decided to bolt from your nice gig anyway? Why on earth would you do that? For those (myself included) who struggle to get by and feed our kids and pay bills every month, bolting a nice job on the off chance that you might get let go sometime down the road is not a luxury we can afford…

    My original point was simple: I don’t think Vision is playing politics like most other posters do. Compared to the Liberals chopping Arts, teachers, charities, welfare, union contracts, etc. (all clearly targeted at political foes and non supporters) on the flimsy justification that it will save us money, I think Vision’s move is actually about fiscal responsibility and cutting largesse. Clearly not a popular opinion to take, but then again, no-one ever agrees with anything I say anyway….

  • landlord

    Hey Ghost. “…Liberals chopping…”? The education budget has grown every year for the last 30 years, despite falling enrollment for the last 10. Every penny has gone into teachers’ pockets.
    Welfare rates have remained stable for the last 10. More has been spent on housing the homeless (non-supporters) by this government than the last 3 combined, and 2 of those were NDP.
    The Arts? When I was just starting out as a professional musician many years ago, an old pro told me “Kid there’s only one kind of artist – a bullshit artist”. Artists are pets of the rich and of politicians who want to pretend they’re Lorenzo the Magnificent.
    We’re currently living on the provincial line of credit with more spent on interest on the debt than is spent on the budgets of all Ministries except Health and Education. Social programs that depend on deficit spending are doomed. Would you like to run on a platform of raising taxes to pay the debt?

  • David

    Oh well at least the city saved
    “The Beasley” by contributing one million dollars to save lovely little building’s facade and contributing to this new condo. No doubt thought as well spent by those getting pink slips.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    landlord, I would run on a platform of billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, and blame the deficit on the disadvantaged and poor leeching us dry. I would also expand the Public Affairs Bureau to four times the size of the White House’s spin machine to ensure that the lazy, ill-informed public bought my revisionist history hook, line and sinker.

  • Dan

    don’t forget about the $800,000 gang symbol they just installed @6th and Clark …MONEY WELL SPENT

  • James

    The mayor’s office made available billions of taxpayer dollars for VANOC and the olympics, but offers next to nothing to end homelessness. They even forgot to ask us if we’re OK with them installing over 900 video cameras used by the cops to watch us. Like someone from a recent BC Civil Liberties Association (BCLA) representative said, the governments are using the olympics as a trojan horse to impose police state powers including using electronic surveillance, police spying, intimidation and disruption of legal political activities.

    What these governments are doing must be strongly opposed by everyone who cares to make the world a better place for us non-billionaires!