Apologies for Delayed Response Time
Please know my ability to provide quick timely turnaround to phone calls and emails is one of the biggest challenges I face in this role. I’ve worked in fields of customer service all my life, and know how critically important service delivery is to customers – and tax payers. Please know there are multiple factors at play that do not allow as timely a response that I want to provide, and that I think Councillors should be providing. I and some other Council members are working to improve the ability for Councillors to respond to residents in a more timely manner, and to reduce the high staff turnover costs to the tax payer.
Winnipeg City Councillors’ offices are the lowest resourced offices in all of Canada’s major cities.
Funding support for office operations is $1.66 per capita – see table below comparing to other cities. (and in comparison, Manitoba MLA’s office support is $11.62 per capita)
2020 Cross Jurisdictional Results
|City||Office Budget||Staff Budget||Staff Pension||Per Capita||Average
|Calgary||$280,900||City RRSP contributions up to 7.5% of base salary||$3.22||87,314|
Table excerpt from: Councillor Office Resources Report
This office funding allocated to City Councillors must cover hiring an assistant, and paying for office operations: telephones, photocopying, mailers, newsletters, couriers, websites, etc.
The current office funding support provided to Councillors, results in:
- An inability for timely responses to calls / emails
- An almost nonexistent ability to research best practices to support good policy development
- An extremely high office staff turnover rate averaging around 50% over a three year period. Staff experience burn out, and seek better working conditions.
- The time and cost to invest in training, then have to re hire and retrain, time and time again is, in my opinion, a waste of taxpayer funding.
Now, COVID-19 is bringing many additional challenges to Councillor office response times:
- The City of Winnipeg 311 system is experiencing much higher call volumes than normal. There are very long wait times on phone calls (I recommend emailing instead firstname.lastname@example.org)
- There is an increase in calls & inquiries related to service delivery (partial openings of libraries, transit ridership, increased crime, addiction, encampments, etc.)
- The overload to 311 results in increased calls to Councillors’ offices
- There is much focus on many societal issues that are also increasing call volumes: anti-Chinese & anti-Semitic racism, Black Lives Matter, atrocities related to Indigenous peoples, Islamophobia – and so much more.
- The ability for residents to now Zoom into City Hall meetings to participate in the decision making process is an incredible benefit to public engagement, but City Hall meetings that are usually 3-4 hours, are now extending for 8 – 10 hours because of increased public participation (which is great) but the longer meetings result in longer delays for Councillors’ to respond to incoming calls and emails.
All of these factors are causing delays in my response times. As mentioned, myself and others are working to improve the response times and service delivery of Councillors. I will be supporting the Councillor Resources motion coming forward in the upcoming budget deliberations.
Please know I am a very engaged Councillor on many issues, and am doing my best to respond to inquiries, and deliver a top service, with the existing resources available to my office. Be persistent. If I’ve not replied – please send another email or call.
Thank you for taking time to review this information.
Thank you media for covering this important issue:
Winnipeg Free Press: City eyes council ward allowance hike
Winnipeg Sun: City councillor jousts with Mayor over staff salaries