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Wildfire and Economy Blamed For Over 160 Job Cuts At RMWB

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Wildfire and Economy Blamed For Over 160 Job Cuts At RMWB

Left to right: Interim CAO Annette Antoniak, Mayor Melissa Blake and Director of Human Resources Terry Hartley announce the RMWB is eliminating 168 positions.

Over 100 employees working for the municipality are being let go.

Officials with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced Tuesday morning that 168 positions have been eliminated in what the municipality is calling an organizational realignment to help build a fiscally responsible operating budget.

“This had nothing to do with their work or their performance, it’s simply a case of having to realign to make sure we can achieve our bottom line moving forward,” Interim CAO Annette Antoniak tells Mix News.

Antoniak says the economic downturn in the oilsands and wildfire were the biggest factor in their decision.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. 52 per cent of our operating budget is made up with staff and labor, which is a huge amount. We have to look at that and we have to be in line with what everyone else is doing.”

Of the 168 jobs cuts, 46 were already vacant, 92 of them are exempt positions, while 76 are CUPE. A handful of part-time contracts were also cut short.

The municipality estimates the one-time severance to cost around $2.3 million for exempt employees.

Antoniak notes the layoffs are coming from different departments with protective and essential services remaining untouched.

“I think after going through the very difficult year of the 2016 wildfire, we recognize the importance of protective services. We also recognize recovery is an important part of moving forward, so that too is not affected.”

The layoffs are expected to save the RMWB $121 million over the next five years.

In a release, Mayor Melissa Blake says changes like this in an organization are never easy.

“I want to thank all those affected employees for their contributions and time of service to the community. As we realign our operations, we remain committed to working with our community partners, industry, and the Government of Alberta, to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. Through collaboration we will find balanced and sustainable solutions.”

Moving forward, the administration is expected to begin an intense review of the 2017 Operating Budget before presenting to Council by the end of the first quarter, as well figure out the best way to transition into Bill 21.

LISTEN: Antoniak Discusses Job Cuts

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