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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

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