City of Burlington considers higher wages to attract workers


Published January 26, 2023 at 4:50 pm

The City of Burlington may have to offer higher wages to maintain staffing levels and attract newcomers to a number of non-union positions.

The news comes following a report presented to City council this week that points out that as of last November, the turnover rate at City Hall was at 11 per cent. Non-union workers are comprised of approximately 50 per cent of the staff and could include managers or senior officials and decision-makers.

That number is considered too high to deliver many of the services offered to the public. Burlington had planned on a seven per cent turnover rate in 2022.

The main reason people are leaving is through resignation, which could mean staff is leaving for a number of reasons including better job opportunities elsewhere or a change in careers.

Specifically, people are also leaving their non-union jobs through retirement, promotions, and new opportunities within the organization.

The problem is exasperated by too few people applying to vacancies or not staying on the job once they are hired. As well, potential candidates are not applying for jobs because they can earn more money elsewhere.

The report gave several examples of jobs that had to be reposted because of the lack of candidates or people leaving quickly once hired.

As well, the report also listed several job vacancies that remain unfilled.

“This is the wake-up call that staff has been warning us about,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward when commenting on the issue on her website. “It brings home the need for some adjustments that need to be made. We can no longer continue to operate with the level of vacancy we have at City Hall because — as we heard from staff in their presentation — that costs our organization money. The data is staggering.”

This is not the first time Burlington has faced this problem. In 2019 reported on the same issue.

The fallout of not having enough workers is that it slows down work at City Hall, which in turn leads to delays for a number of services, particularly when dealing with the public. One area where this is evident is in the planning department where building applications often face slow processing times.

Discussion surrounding the issue suggests that wage incentives, bonuses, improved benefits and increased opportunities for advancement may be ways to maintain a non-union workforce that is content to stay on the job or have outsiders apply for positions.

“We need the best people to deliver the best service and that comes at a cost,” the mayor commented. “Though it is a tough cost for us in a tough budget year, it is a wake-up call that we cannot afford to ignore.”



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