City of Swift Current’s pandemic staffing plan will impact 105 positions

A series of jobs with the City of Swift Current have been impacted as a result of facility closures and other restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release issued on Friday afternoon, the city announced that a total of 105 positions have been impacted, in part because of the closure of city facilities and the reduced level of services which the City is maintaining. The decision will impact approximately 50 summer students along with temporary staff, seasonal employees who will not be rehired this year, while current vacant positions will not be filled.

Tim Marcus, the City of Swift Current’s Chief Administrative Officer, noted the Senior Management team has been reviewing staffing levels required for over the coming weeks and months.

“We reviewed all our work going forward and what we would need in order to maintain services that we’re currently providing, as well as what we’ll need to do to have a good plan to have stuff ready for when we enter the summer,” Marcus said during a teleconference interview.

“It’s a combination of facility closures, as well as we do have some temporary staff. As well as we’ve deferred our seasonal and summer student employment that takes place. We rely on I’d say a fairly large number of students and seasonal employees to carry out the extra work that takes place in the city during the summer months maintaining all the green spaces.”

The move comes on the heels of Swift Current City Council approving a three month grace period for the payment of city taxes as well as a temporary suspension of the late payment charges on outstanding City utility accounts until September 30. In response to this drop in revenue collection, the City undertook measures to reduce expenditures in every department.

“Our plan will allow us to complete certain projects, sustain key operations and maintain amenities such as facilities, parks and pathways under the COVID-19 restrictions, while at the same time allowing us to re-purpose some of our employees to areas where they are needed as vacant/seasonal positions go unfilled,” Marcus stated.

“As we move forward, with our permanent staff and with us deferring some capital work and not having I’ll say full-time work for staff in some of the facilities, we intend to repurpose them to get other needed work done that can be done when the facilities are closed, as well as to do the work that the seasonals and the summer students would normally be doing.”

Marcus is hoping the staffing decisions will not have a visible impact in the community.

“We hope not. We’ll take a look at everything, but at this point in time going into the summer season we intend to maintain the pathways and other green areas just like they normally do. We’ll also be maintaining all of our fields that are normally used by various sports. We may not be cutting them as regularly as we would do if they were being played on, but we would certainly still maintain them. They need to be irrigated and the grass cut.”

He noted that key operations and seasonal city work will continue as usual, including the annual street cleaning program.

“We can’t afford to let all the sand and gravel wash down into our storm system and impact drainage around the community, so they will be cleaning the streets moving forward just like we normally do as the weather changes.”

The city-owned Chinook Golf Course, which is currently on the list of non-essential businesses and as of now would not be opening for the start of the golf season, will be prepared for when COVID-19 restrictions are reduced.

“As we move forward we expect that it will be (open). So work that needs to be done to bring the course to being in playable shape we intend to perform. That’s also part of repurposing some of the staff to that facility in order to do that.”

City Council has also reviewed the staffing plan and Mayor Denis Perrault noted he is confident that the staff needed to carry out the City’s services are in place.

“As a Council, we are pleased that we are able to move some of our staff to different areas within our day-to-day operations where we are not bringing seasonal help on board at this time,” Mayor Perrault stated in a press release. “I’m grateful to our Administrative team for completing this review and for their commitment to ensuring that we continue to serve the public during this challenging situation. As we all know, things have been changing quite rapidly during this pandemic, and we’ll be prepared to review and revise as things do change, and that goes for our operations, how efficient we can be, and for the capital side of things as well.”

Both Perrault and Marcus noted that the city has been challenged to be adaptable while adjusting to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The one constant throughout this situation has been change,” said Perrault. “From Council to Administration to our entire team of staff, we’re all adapting to things as they change, as are our citizens and our businesses, and I think it’s a testament to our community that, together, we have met each new challenge head on and demonstrated resilience and support for one another.”