Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers

2014 Mayoral Candidates - Response to Questions

 

2014 MAYORAL CANDIDATES - RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS

Candidates for Office of the Mayor are listed in order of names to appear on the ballot.


 

RESPONSE FROM JUDY WASYLYCIA-LEIS:

1. What are your thoughts or position on the City’s Operating Budget and development process?

Winnipeg is a diverse community with incredible potential. However, in recent years, our elected municipal officials have lost citizens’ trust. I believe the processes at City Hall need to be more transparent, and this includes the budget process. Within 100 days of taking office, I would create the OurWinnipeg Task Force, to ensure that city policy and decisions reflect the spirit and intent of the OurWinnipeg Plan. City employees worked long and hard to gather community input and develop this plan for our future and I think it lays out a great blueprint for Winnipeg’s growth.

2. What are your plans for working with Unions and what issues would necessitate such requirements?

Unions are made up of people who are essential to the success of our city, our province, and our country. I have had great experiences working with unions in the past and expect this would continue during my time at City Hall. I will work closely with the civil service to plan and implement the policies that will help Winnipeg thrive and I expect to seek input from union members in many major decision areas. In my experience, union members, like most Winnipeggers, are dedicated to this city and making it work, and I would want their input in everything from animal services to zoning.

3. In terms of the variety of services our members provide to the city what issues are you aware of that affect our work environment and workplaces?

I believe that many city employees are demoralized as a result of the dysfunction on city council. Councillors have taken to pointing fingers when often they should be looking in the mirror. I want to bring honestly and positivity back to city hall and to work closely with the public service to strengthen our city. Having a more open government, including protection for employees bringing forward concerns about misconduct in the workplace, will create a better environment for all city employees.

4. Many of the city’s collective agreements come up for negotiation during the next term as mayor, what will you do to attract and retain professional, skilled employees and improve the work life balance and moral of City of Winnipeg employees?

In our increasingly hectic world, more and more people are starting to realize the importance of work-life balance. In many cases, this can mean empowering women, as well as men, to make the choices that make sense for their families. It’s a simple fact that employees who are less stressed and happier are also more productive and these are some of the benefits that strong labour unions have achieved for our citizens. As for attracting and retaining skilled employees, I believe the best thing we can do is work together to make Winnipeg a city where people want to live and raise their families, improving infrastructure, vital services and transportation. As well, we need to make city hall a place where employees are respected and feel like part of a team, working towards common goals.

5. Do you see value from regular meetings with labour groups on issues relevant to each party?

As part of creating a more responsive and accountable city government, I would meet regularly with labour and other groups who will play a key role in making Winnipeg a City that Works. It’s very important to me to stay connected with those working hard every day, on the front lines, to serve the public.


 

RESPONSE FROM DAVID SANDERS:

1. What are your thoughts on the City’s Operating Budget and development process?

I am aware of the substantial 2015 and 2016 operating budget deficits projected earlier this year, which do not include a large number of potential additions.

I therefore believe that the finalization and adoption of the 2015 Operating Budget will be a tremendous challenge for everyone. As Mayor, effective November 4th, I will lead the Council in beginning an immediate and intensive review of the budgets prepared by the present administration, and connecting to the public budget consultation process which has been underway since the spring. I intend to make the whole process as transparent as possible, and to ensure that members of the public and civic employees all have a real opportunity to comment on priorities and contribute to the overall community budget decisions.

I believe that the budget review should be decentralized, politically and administratively, and the results then aggregated in a transparent process, with City Council as a whole exercising its responsibility for making the final decision before March.

In my opinion, the present Council and senior administration have lost the public’s trust when it comes to spending the City’s money wisely. We need to earn that trust again, in order to create a consensus able to move forward with new investments and new programs where warranted. We all need to work together on this, and that certainly includes those most knowledgeable about City business – the civic employees.

2. What are your plans for working with Unions and what issues would necessitate such requirements?

As Mayor, I will lead a majority of City Council in hiring the senior administrators and establishing the legal, financial and policy framework for City programs and services. The senior administration will be expected to act on behalf of Council in maintaining a professional and collaborative relationship with all civic unions, such as WAPSO. In support of that relationship, I envisage engaging in direct communication with the union leadership from time to time, to ensure that our respective organizations are communicating effectively and “moving forward by pulling together.”

I believe some of the key issues are increasing workload stress, working conditions, maintenance of benefits such as pensions, employment equity, competitive compensation and career development. We need to avoid simplistic hiring freezes, and budgeting policies which rely on attrition or unpaid leave. Personally, I understand, respect and support the historical role of unions as worker representatives and collective bargaining agents. One of my sons is national organizing director for UNITEHERE. I also qualified as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with a specialty in human resource management, and I taught organizational behavior for the University of Manitoba’s Certificate Course in Public Sector Management for many years.

3. In terms of the variety of services our members provide to the City what issues are you aware of that affect our work environment and workplaces?

As with so many workplaces now, there is tremendous pressure at the City to do more work, with less staff, in an environment of increasing customer expectations. There is greater physical and mental stress, pressure on work-life balance and family relationships, lack of control over the pace of work, unsafe work, and various violations of the principles of a respectful workplace. For managers and supervisors, there can be the added stress of bearing responsibility without having effective authority. But I don’t want to assume that I know what the members’ issues are. I want the members to be able to express their concerns and obtain effective and reasonable responses from senior management following regular channels. If those channels are not working (and I suspect they are not) then the representatives of the unions and I have a lot to talk about.

4. Many of the city’s collective agreements come up for negotiation during the next term as mayor, what will you do to attract and retain professional, skilled employees and improve the work life balance and morale of City of Winnipeg employees?

I believe the citizens of Winnipeg want and deserve to have a highly effective, productive, professional, ethical, and proud workforce, and I will support practices and procedures designed to achieve that goal.

I believe we must provide City of Winnipeg employees with competitive compensation, benefits, working conditions, and career development opportunities. I believe we need to “catch people doing something right,” and recognize outstanding service, dedication and performance. We need to ensure that working arrangements are fair, defensible, and sensible.

As Mayor I will seek to promote public understanding of the excellent work done by civic employees, and to enhance public respect and support for them.

As a long-time provincial civil servant, I understand these matters, and I believe I can be an effective public communicator on these subjects.

5. Do you see value from regular meetings with labour groups on issues relevant to each party?

As explained in my answer to Question #2, I envisage engaging in direct communication with the union leadership from time to time, to ensure that our respective organizations are communicating effectively and “moving forward by pulling together.”

The Mayor’s office will have an open door, and it will be my policy to meet with representatives of the unions such as WAPSO as and when they request to meet. I trust the unions will reciprocate, whenever I believe it would helpful to collaborate on any matters of civic importance.

I certainly wish to pursue the present discussions of an effective Whistleblower procedure for the City, and will comment on that below.

For another example, please note that I have promised to make implementation of the Municipal Aboriginal Pathways recommendations a first priority at City Hall. I would hope that WAPSO would collaborate in leading appropriate initiatives and radically improving the effectiveness of City programs and services in serving the needs of the urban Aboriginal population.


 

RESPONSE FROM BRIAN BOWMAN:

1. What are your thoughts on the City’s Operating Budget and development process?

I am dedicated to fair increases in the operating budget for all civic staff and Union groups (WAPSO, MGEU, UFFCW, etc.) through consultation with those groups, as well as addressing economic and operating realities within Winnipeg.

2. What are your plans for working with Unions and what issues would necessitate such requirements?

As Mayor, it is incumbent upon me to forge a strong relationship with all of our City’s Unions. The services that are provided to our citizens, by the members of our Unions, are essential to a properly functioning city. If elected Mayor, my plan would be to meet with all of our Union heads and leadership, to begin fostering an open dialogue and trust so that we can all work towards our mutual goal of serving the citizens of Winnipeg.

3. In terms of the variety of services our members provide to the City what issues are you aware of that affect our work environment and workplaces?

One issue that I know is important to WAPSO’s membership is WAPSO’s desire to create a better work life balance for its members. As Mayor, it will be important to me to provide the best possible service to our citizens. To accomplish this, we need to be cognizant of who is providing these services to our citizens. We also need to be conscious of the strain that can be placed on our valuable human resources by their workplace.

As Mayor, I look forward to meeting with WAPSO’s leadership to discuss how we will be able assist in providing better work environments fro your members.

4. Many of the city’s collective agreements come up for negotiation during the next term as mayor, what will you do to attract and retain professional, skilled employees and improve the work life balance and morale of City of Winnipeg employees?

Attracting and retaining professional, skilled employees is a struggle that is unfortunately, faced by many organizations in our City. As Mayor, it will be my mandate to put in place policies that will keep and attract our City’s best and brightest.

One thing that I have heard while campaigning, is that many of the City’s workers felt as though the previous administrations have made it difficult for them to do their jobs. I will endeavour to make sure that City Hall does not get in the way of our City’s employees trying to do their jobs. This will assist in enhancing the purpose and pride that everyone has in their work and will aid in eliminating the frustrations that have been felt in the past.

If you know that your hard work is valued, it will assist immeasurably in improving an employee’s morale.

5. Do you see value from regular meetings with labour groups on issues relevant to each party?

Absolutely. Having regular meetings will help ensure that the lines of communication between each party remain open. It will foster a better working relationship between each party. It will also allow each party to better understand the other’s wants and needs. As Mayor, it s important for me to know how City Hall can help our Unions to deliver the best possible service to our citizens. The best way to do this is to be regularly informed as to how the Mayor’s office can best assist your membership in their endeavours.

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