Recent staff cuts at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen are being described as permanent, not temporary measures. The two cuts were made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen job cuts are permanent, administrator says

Positions were cut in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Recent cuts at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen are permanent changes, not temporary measures, the chief administrative officer says.

The cuts were announced earlier this month when two senior managers were let go as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two positions were in public works and development services.

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“COVID-19 is not a short-term impact,” Newell told the board at the April 16 meeting. “All the indicators are there will be a long-term recovery.”

He added that the cuts were terminations, not layoffs.

At present, there are no predictions for how long the pandemic will last, although Newell said the outlooks are for months and not weeks before restrictions will be lifted.

The ongoing pandemic means the regional district is revisiting its 2018 organizational change. The change in 2018, based on a three-year growth history, resulted in a second tier of management in the regional district.

“The statistics and assumptions that were the foundation of the organizational change are no longer relevant,” Newell said in a report to the regional district board. “Seemingly overnight, we went from flat out growth to projections for economic retraction. With the information we have now, a two-tier management structure was deemed unsustainable.”

In addition to the layoffs, the regional district has frozen recruitment on new budgeted positions. Summer staff have been told that start dates are now variable.

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