The government is hiring, if only on the front line of tomorrow

Wanted: Albertans like this to serve on the front line of tomorrow. (Photo gratefully borrowed from Sexy People Blog.)

It’s great to see that, despite the recession, the government of Alberta continues to hire needed personnel.

Wait, you say? What about the hiring freeze at Alberta Health Services? What about the hiring freeze affecting employees of the Government of Alberta?

Oh, well… I suppose if you’re going to call nurses and child protection workers essential and claim they’re overworked you could gin up an argument that needed employees aren’t being hired. …

But, really, which is actually more important: some crabby old unionized intensive-care-ward nurse who always wants to claim overtime, or the people who will shape Alberta’s future?

Obviously, if we go by what the government of Alberta does, as opposed to going by what it says, we can quickly reach two conclusions. Conclusion 1: The hiring freeze only affects employees who deliver services that are actually needed by the public. Conclusion 2: The group that’s more important is made up of those mysterious personages who will shape our innovative future.

Leastways, while Alberta may desperately need more nurses and child protection workers, not to mention dozens of other important job categories, it is board members for four new provincial corporations and an advisory body that the government is advertising to hire. Everything else, apparently, is frozen, like the North Pole used to be in the good old days before global warming.

What’s more, they’re not leaving the job to the capable staff of the Government’s Corporate Human Resources office (which is a “business friendly” way of saying the Public Service Commission), they’ve hired Ray & Berndtson, a high-zoot executive search firm, to track down likely candidates.

Trust me, this won’t come cheap. (The people the government actually pays to do this work, presumably, are sitting around drumming their fingers, waiting for the price of a barrel of oil to go up again.)

If you don’t believe me, check out the Working Section of Saturday’s Edmonton Journal. The government’s advertisement – well, Ray & Berndtson’s if you want to be technical about it – is on page K1. There’s another version of the same ad in the Saturday Globe and Mail. It says, in part, “the creation of four new provincial corporations (Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions; Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions; Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions; and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures) is a signal Alberta is committed to support research and innovation in these key areas defining Alberta’s success and social well being into the next decade.” Wow! Alberta is sure innovating nowadays! There’s also something called the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority, which needs board members as well.

The ad goes on: “Alberta seeks vision, energy and world class sector experience and credentials in their Founding Board members. The Government of Alberta invites nominations and expressions of interest from those who want to serve on the front line of tomorrow.” Click here to read Ray & Berndtson’s ad on-line.

I don’t know about you, but I’d just love to serve on the front line of tomorrow. I’ve got a funny feeling, though, that I’m just not the kind of fellow they have in mind.

As a dear friend of mine with many years of experience likes to say, there’s never a bad time to reward your friends!

5 Comments on "The government is hiring, if only on the front line of tomorrow"

  1. Boris says:

    David, I'm sure you know there's a hiring freeze across the board in the GOA, not just help.
    Contract hiring is still allowed.
    So, question to you: given your druthers, what would you prefer
    A) Permanent contracts hiring freeze (but contracts still allowed) which would allow for some turnover
    or
    B) The actual power to "fire" someone who's permanent and replace them with someone better (let's say better and not cheaper)

    Which would make for better public service?

  2. David J. Climenhaga says:

    Boris's comment offers a false choice. First, by implication he assumes that given the present economic/political circumstances "business as usual" is neither possible nor desirable. Others do not necessarily share this assumption. Regardless, clearly there is NOT a hiring freeze across the board at the Government of Alberta, which has itself said it is prepared to make exceptions where there is genuine need. The debate is over how many exceptions there should be. I am not sure I understand what Boris is proposing in Point A, although it seems to have something to do with contracting out. I do not think this is a circumstance in which contracting out would have any benefit for the taxpayers of Alberta. As for Boris's Plan B, it seems to be some kind of a sly shot at unions and their goal of protecting workers. Its underlying assumption is (intentionally, I suspect) misleading. Employers, including the government, can now fire employees for cause. As a trade unionist and a (I hope) decent human being, OF COURSE I am opposed allowing arbitrary firing of employees who are properly carrying out their duties to replace them with someone deemed by someone else to be "better." By what measure – their family relationship with a Cabinet member? Their ideological purity? What church they attend? Their ability to play shortstop on the ministry ball team? Please! Whatever Boris has in mind for A, B would not make for a "better public service."

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hidden behind all this I think the GOA management does not have a hot clue about how to manage itself and is driven into absolute panic mode like never before. Ideologically I wonder if the PC’s have ever figured out what role the public service actually plays in Alberta and how the contribute to wealth creation, protection, and community enhancement in this Province. David, correct me if I am wrong but as far as I could tell Alberta is the ONLY Province that has a hiring freeze right now.

  4. Boris says:

    Sorry David, my apologies as that was very poorly written comment and I'll mull over it and try to ask the questions better.

    I've got much more experience in the federal public service than here in Alberta, maybe things are different.

    Although, now that you mention it, our department could really use a good short-stop. Could we get one on secondment?

    I think we agree; hiring freezes are never set in stone; always exceptions. Hopefully anyone who happens to be reading this and wants a job with the GOA knows this.
    In the Feds, they have gone the way of short-term contracts to a great extend because once you hire someone, you are stuck with them until they decide to move on, without regard to their performance. Hopefully that's not the case in Alberta and those with the best skills are allowed opportunities to excel.

  5. Anonymous says:

    In Alberta we don't raise taxes, we cut families, then raise taxes on alcohol then lower them again.

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