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Town of Innisfail could be forced to lay off staff

Extension of provincial COVID restrictions could change current staffing strategy
MVP Innisfail town hall 1
The Town of Innisfail could be forced to lay off staff as a result of the two-week extension of COVID-19 restrictions announced by the province on Jan. 7. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – With the province announcing a two-week extension to the strict COVID measures brought in last month, the Town of Innisfail could be forced to lay off employees.

The provincial announcement to extend COVID measures was made by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Jan. 7. The 28-day order for tougher measures against COVID-19 infection that was announced on Dec. 8 will remain in place until at least Jan. 21.

Todd Becker, the town's chief administrative officer, said while the two-week extension does not “generate action” for town operations it does create a challenge for staffing.

However, he told The Albertan late last week the new provincial announcement has now forced the town’s senior management team to “re-evaluate” the issue of town services and staffing levels.

"The worry I have, and I will be honest with you, if there is a long-term extension of these restrictions then I am really worried about the staffing level side of things,” said Becker. “If we are going to maintain facility closures, we really need to look at how and what kind of capacity we have.

“Are we then over staffed on the services that are being provided? That is being evaluated and thought about daily but more formally we (senior management) are going to be meeting on Monday (Jan. 11),” added Becker.

When asked on Jan. 8 whether the town can go forward another two weeks without layoffs, Becker said, “That is something we are going to be chatting about. It is certainly under evaluation. It is a really good question and I am still evaluating that over the next few days at least.”

Becker told The Albertan in late December the Town of Innisfail was avoiding the necessity of laying of employees through a staffing strategy of employees using accumulated vacation time and combining employee resources.

The goal, said Becker, was to ensure the town was still in a good operational state while maximizing efforts to ensure quality mental health for all staff.

The Town of Innisfail has 63 permanent full time staff, along with 26-part-time casual and 21 firefighters.