Council moving forward with local hiring plan

Prince Albert city council members debate a proposal during 2018 budget deliberations at City Hall in November 2017. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

A proposal to prioritize local candidates when hiring for open police and fire positions has received unanimous approval from Prince Albert City Council.

The motion, which passed on Monday, would also give priority to homegrown city employees when sending workers for additional training.

Mayor Greg Dionne brought the original motion forward at a previous council meeting. Dionne said he was pleased to see such strong support from the rest of the city’s elected officials.

“That tells me that … we’re all on the same page: let’s hire local and support our local kids,” Dionne said.

The idea to give homegrown employees priority for training was a late amendment to the motion. Dionne said the goal is to make sure the city has a succession plan in place for occupations that require additional levels of education to advance. At the moment, the city would have to look outside Prince Albert to fulfill vacant high-level positions.

Under the proposed plan, employees who need additional training and education to advance, such as water plant operators, would receive financial support from the city. In return, they would have to provide Prince Albert with a set period of service. Any employees who leave before the time is up would have to pay back the balance they owe.

“In some of these specialty jobs, we probably have the talent to do it. They just don’t have the education,” Dionne said. “If that’s the hurdle to hiring local, then let’s pay for that education.”

If Dionne has his way, the policy will soon extend to all city departments. He said the police and fire departments were the first targets because they provide some of the best paying jobs.

There is no set timeline for the next vote on the rest of the city’s hiring policies, but Dionne said he plans to start working on the next phase by next week.