City achieving budget savings with minimal layoffs

The 2010 city budget, adopted in December, required the layoff of up to 126 city employees. City manager Penny Ballem advised staff yesterday that number has been reduced to 14 through transfers, retirements and other measures.

Still to come: staff reassignments and changes related to the Vancouver Service Review, which is merging and rationalizing various aspects of city business.

Here’s the text of Ballem’s message:

Memo To All City of Vancouver staff

I would like to start off by recapping what has transpired since the last communication to you in January with respect to the impact on staff as a result of the recent budget reductions.
In December, we estimated 109 positions would be impacted through the service level adjustments as a result of the 2010 Budget approved December 18, 2009 by Council. We also announced that an additional 14 impacted positions had been identified within Engineering Services, Equipment Services Branch and Mountain View Cemetery due to a decrease in work load within these areas. Thus, a total of 123 positions could potentially be impacted out of our 10,000 member workforce.
CMT established a committee with membership across the City to work to reduce the impact on staff. As a result, in January, we announced that there would be only 44 employees covered under the group notice issued under Section 64 of the Employment Standards Act. Shortly following the communication, an additional 3 positions within Equipment Services were identified, bringing our total number of employees covered under the group notice to 47 out of a total of 126 potentially impacted employees. Since then, we have been hard at work, meeting with the Unions and managers of impacted staff, looking for ways to reduce the impact of potential layoffs.
Over the last weeks, we have also been participating in Section 54 discussions with each of the Unions to jointly develop a labour adjustment plan that will help with this process. We have come to an agreement with CUPE 15 that identifies several placement mechanisms intended to lessen the impact on staff who are being placed in different positions across the organization. A joint communication from Paul Faoro and me, outlining the details of the agreement, has been sent out to all affected employees represented by CUPE 15. Section 54 discussions with CUPE 1004 and IBEW are continuing, and we hope to have more to communicate to you on this soon.
The very encouraging news is that as a result of a lot of hard work on the part of our city-wide committee, managers, and our Unions, we have been able to find placements through retirements or vacancies for a total of 112 employees, meaning that at this point in time, only 14 employees our of the original 126 will receive actual layoff notice.
We continue to meet with the Union leaders to give them an overview of the status of the VSR projects. As detailed plans become available, we will assess and evaluate the impact that these projects may have on staff. At this point, more information specifically relating to the IT Shared Services project, as well as the Supply Chain project will be communicated later this month.
As we move into the next few months I would ask all of us to be sensitive to those individuals being impacted by these changes. There will be a number of staff moving to new positions within the organization. I know I can count on all of you to welcome them into their new workplace. For the 14 receiving layoff notice this week, the support of colleagues and managers will be key, helping them work through this change. We will be providing them with all the appropriate supports through Human Resources and Employee Assistance Programs.
I want to thank all of you for your patience, understanding and commitment to minimizing any unnecessary impact on our staff as we move through these changes.

Penny Ballem, MD FRCP

City Manager