EDITORIAL: ‘Typical’ deserves examination

Prevailing perspective does not address underlying causes and factors

It would appear the District of Mission’s elected representatives and administration have put to rest the issue of an exodus of non-unionized staff over the past two years.

According to a district report, 14 exempt staff members left their employment from 2012 to April of this year. Seven resigned, three retired, one went on long-term disability and three were terminated. Of the 14, nine were senior managers.

In the three previous years, eight non-unionized employees departed, including three resignations and a termination.

Mission Mayor Ted Adlem said the report shows that staff departures and vacancies are typical of turnover at the District of Mission.

Coun. Dave Hensman called the issue an “induced crisis,” and was glad that “confusion” was cleared up.

Despite voting a month ago to bring in an external consultant to review the staffing departures, other councillors also now seem content to move on.

We will as well, with some final observations.

It may be that the number of departures in the past two years are “typical” of turnover at the District of Mission.

However, that prevailing perspective does not address underlying causes and factors, nor does it ask whether the turnover is reflective of other communities.

In a rudimentary comparison, The Record sought figures from several similarly sized cities. Port Moody reported losing four senior managers in the past two years and Vernon has lost one. In Penticton, about half a dozen exempt staff resigned or retired from their jobs in the past two years, including one senior manager.

At 14, Mission had double the highest number of departures in that group, more than triple of Port Moody, and vastly outpaced Vernon’s one.

In that context, “typical” may not be such a reassuring word.

As articulated by some councillors, the depth of staff experience at city hall has been affected as a result of the departures.

In addition to that concern is the work environment which these people left, and whether that has created a reputation which may pose hiring challenges in the future.

It would seem those are non-typical questions worth examination.