City staffing issues could affect services: manager

The City of Whitehorse is having a tough time recruiting qualified people for several of its departments, including finance and water and waste services.

The City of Whitehorse is having a tough time recruiting qualified people for several of its departments, including finance and water and waste services.

The vacancies have resulted in the city being $1 million below budget for wages and benefits for its staff.

At Monday evening’s council meeting, Coun. Betty Irwin asked about the repercussions on the city’s ability to provide services.

Valerie Anderson, manager of financial services, said city staff were working hard to keep up service levels but was unsure of how much longer they could continue doing so.

“Certainly if this were to extend much longer, there would be definite effect to the services being offered,” she told Irwin.

In response to Coun. Irwin’s follow-up question about what the city planned on doing to fix the situation, Anderson said under-staffed departments were working with human resources to “enable hiring to happen.”

Barbara Walker, manager of human resources, said understaffing can result from different things.

Restructuring is one of them. For example, the city has created a new department called legislative and administrative services, which hasn’t been fully staffed yet.

A manager’s position within the department replaces the position formerly titled as the director of corporate services, which was held by Robert Fendrick until March.

The director of infrastructure and operations position has been vacant since Brian Crist was let go in March. Walker said it would be filled in the next four to six weeks.

New positions were created in the finance department, too, such as the procurement area.

The bylaw department has experienced some turnover lately, and Walker said it’s been particularly hard to find qualified people here in the Yukon.

Another challenging position to fill has been lifeguards.

“That’s a problem area for us,” she said. Many lifeguards are younger people who go back to school in the fall.

Some positions take longer to fill than others. If an employee only gives two weeks’ notice, it takes the city at least six weeks to fill that vacancy, she said.

The city runs a very “lean” organization, she said, which means that when there is a position to be filled, it has a ripple effect.

“It’s not uncommon for people, at some point in the year, to not only do their job but do pieces of someone else’s job too,” she said.

As of this morning there were six positions posted on the city’s careers page. Walker said that’s down from about 20 a month ago.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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