Monday, March 1, 2021

Chatham-Kent staffing impacts related to COVID-19

20 per cent of the “core workforce” for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cathy Hoffman, general manager of corporate services and the chief human resources officer for Chatham-Kent, said in a report the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a series of necessary adjustments to service levels and service delivery methods to ensure the safety of Chatham-Kent residents, Municipal employees and to facilitate the control of the spread of the virus.

“Along with the adjustments to service levels and service delivery methods has come a corresponding impact on staffing levels,” Hoffman said in her report.

“Some of our services have experienced a surge in service demand requiring an uptick in staffing and overtime hours while others were closed or canceled entirely resulting in layoffs or redeployments.

Hoffman added: “Within the first two weeks of the declared emergency, changes to services, staffing and layoffs were already being made while staffing tied to business continuity was preserved.”

The information report, which will be discussed during Monday’s, May 25, 2020 Council meeting, stemmed from a motion made by Wallaceburg Councillor Carmen McGregor on May 11, 2020.

The motion, which was added to an amended recommendation by staff on financial resiliency, asked staff that temporary layoffs and wage reductions be considered across the entire organization.

Hoffman said of the 1,879 employees, including the Chatham-Kent Police Service, 47 employees were laid off from Library Services, 165 summer student positions were cut for the season and 121 employees took an unpaid leave of absence.

“For a total reduction of 333 employees, representing nearly 20% of our core workforce,” Hoffman said in her report.

In terms of redeployed staff, Hoffman said Riverview Gardens, Chatham-Kent’s long-term care facility, required the most significant number of additional resources.

Other staff were redeployed to the community isolation centre, the economic recovery initiative, security assignments at Erie Shore Drive and construction and public safety at Mitchell’s Bay South Trail, the PPE Distribution Centre and the Provincial Order By-law Enforcement team.

Hoffman said redeployed staff were taken from areas such as tourism, recreation, museums, theatre, resident attraction and immigration, libraries, children’s services, culture, planning and occupational safety to fill these roles.

“In relative terms, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s employment response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been similar to the majority of municipalities who have reported out on this topic,” Hoffman said in her report.

“Municipalities have laid off staff as a result of service level reductions. Some municipalities have opted not to lay off staff even with service reductions.”

Hoffman added: “While we recognize that we are only part way through the COVID-19 crisis, staff have been stellar in their commitment and compassion. Some have worked tirelessly while others have experienced family economic loss. We will continue to monitor service requirements and adjust staffing accordingly as phased re-openings begin.”

To read Hoffman’s full report, click here.

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