Job cuts at Calgary city hall may take until mid-2021 to complete

City council approved cutting 162 city jobs this year but that work might not be completed until halfway through 2021.

Council approved doing away with 162 city jobs during budget debate

The City of Calgary may take until the middle of the year before it completes the process of eliminating 162 jobs as part of its 2021 budget. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

At city hall, some rounds of job cuts take longer to complete than others.

During November's budget adjustments, Calgary city council approved cutting 162 jobs to help keep the 2021 budget on track for a small property tax cut.

But some of those job cuts may not actually happen until the middle of this year.

The city's chief financial officer Carla Male tells CBC News that this year's cuts aren't all like the ones in past years.

Some jobs will be done away with in the traditional way and some of those cuts have already taken place.

But about half of the job reductions will happen as a result of a corporate program called SAVE, which stands for Solutions for Achieving Value and Excellence.

Council wants $50M savings

The program's aim is to cut $50 million in city spending this year, and part of that figure will come from job losses.

"We are just currently working on what that would look like and that would roll out over the next few months," said Male.

"In order for the SAVE business cases, we do have a prediction that we would know better what the implications for our service level are perhaps mid-year."

Male said some of the job cuts through the SAVE program would cut across several departments so it's still too early to say where the cuts will actually land or how many individuals might be laid off.

This is a contrast to past cost-cutting at city hall.

Layoffs have happened

For example in the summer of 2019, city council voted to cut $60 million in spending in the middle of its fiscal year.

That resulted in 233 positions being removed from the payroll.

After vacant positions were collapsed, contracts cancelled and retiring employees not replaced, 115 city workers were laid off.

Since July 2019, the city has permanently cut 574 full-time equivalent jobs from its payroll.  

That figure doesn't include hundreds of temporary layoffs that have happened since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March 2020.

Male said the job reductions will be made as decisions are made so cuts will not happen on a single day.

"We do recognize our commitment with our employees under our collective agreements and to treat employees with dignity and respect in this process. The work is going on currently as we speak," said Male.