Hiring staff during current economy divides city council

2017 operating budget debate continues

Red Deer city council grappled with a request during Friday’s operating budget debate to hire one more full-time human resource staff member during the current economic downturn.

The $68,267 request, for salary, materials and supplies, narrowly passed in a 5-4 vote.

The city’s Human Resources department currently has three human resources consultants to serve the city’s 1,600 employees and burnout was becoming a concern.

Human Resources investigations have increased dramatically over the years to 51 in 2016 from four in 201o. With more people looking for jobs, the city saw about 33,000 work applications in 2016, up from 24,500 in 2015.

Councillors Tanya Handley, Lawrence Lee, Buck Buchanan and Mayor Tara Veer voted against the hire.

Handley said she saw the need, but her focus during the 2017 operating budget discussion is to hold the line on hiring.

“My response is strictly one of timing. For me, it’s just not the time to add to our staff complement,” Handley said.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she understood the sensitivities of hiring right now. But human resources and labour relations issues and problems are a daily challenge.

“I think about healthy, safe employees. I think about mental health. I think about worker to worker conflict. That in turn has a spinoff effect for supervisors, which in turn has an effect on labour relations and human resources,” Wyntjes said.

“It’s tough all over and I think if there’s one area we have to be particularly focused on it’s our people,” said Coun. Lynne Mulder.

In other budget decisions on Friday, council approved $37,000 in operating savings for ways to dialogue and engage with the community, including a focus on the city’s aboriginal population.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission made recommendations that are proving to be a game changer for municipalities in terms of the expectations of how we related to the indigenous community. Part of the work in that is establishing protocols with our local Urban Aboriginal Voices, working government to government in terms of how we approach issues that affect our indigenous community,” Veer said.

Council also decided to hold off on a Value for Money audit for another city department. An audit has just begun on Inspections and Licensing, Planning and Engineering departments.

“Council tonight spoke in strong favor for Value for Money audits, that it is a strong tool for us to give future direction to the organization for improvements for our community. But council didn’t want to invest an additional $100,000 for this year when we have the building and development processes under review.”

Debate on the city’s draft operating budget is scheduled to continue through next week.


Just Posted

Fog advisory in place for Central Alberta

Near-zero visibility possible

Art Battle Red Deer to support Women of Excellence Awards

Art Battle Red Deer will be April 6 at the Radisson Hotel

Eliminating racial discrimination events in Red Deer this week

Two upcoming events aim to inspire change and eliminate racial discrimination in… Continue reading

Outfitter facing Wildlife Act charges

It is alleged archery-only hunting licences used out of season

Sunnybrook pies in demand

Just in time for Easter

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

Austin bombing suspect blows himself up as SWAT moves in

ROUND ROCK, Texas — The suspect in the deadly bombings that terrorized… Continue reading

Liberal firearms bill attacked by both gun owners and shooting victims

OTTAWA — The federal government tabled a proposed new bill Tuesday to… Continue reading

No opting out: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones soon

TORONTO — Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for a looming update to… Continue reading

Union leader says Alberta EMS system ‘broken’, not enough paramedics, ambulances

CALGARY — A union leader says government data shows Alberta does not… Continue reading

21-year-old charged with drug trafficking in Rocky Mountain House

RCMP seized drugs after conducting a traffic stop and charged a 21-year-old… Continue reading

Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms

OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms… Continue reading

Alberta factoring in Trans Mountain pipeline in budget forecasts

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta will rely on anticipated… Continue reading

Pooches and pickup truck stolen in Edmonton found in Rimbey

Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey who were in a… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month