Do you want surgery with a Scalpel? or a Chainsaw?

I had the privlidge of giving a presentation at the February 10 Infrastructure Asset Management Association Workshop about how leaders can use the principles of Asset Management to navigate difficult financial times.

While this presentation lasted only 75 minutes….the genesis of it was 20 years in the making. From the muncipal financial squeese of the ’90s in Saskatchewan; the Core Service Review feeding frenzy of the 2000s; the core principles of Asset Management (Level of Service & Risk) that emerged later in that decade; and what should be the core focus of every Council — a focus on strategy and real impact. All of these experiences shaped the content of this presentation…and our approach to managing servcie delivery.

We’ve used this approach to help teams better understand what services they offer, and more importantly – why. And then support them in making good decisions around ho wto invest scarce resources wisely.

Feel free to download the presentation attached, and reach out if you have any questions, or would like to talk about how you can bring all of these threads together.



With the economy taking some measured steps to reopen, it’s time to start recalling your employees from layoff. You need to do it properly and give them the right information – both legally & ethically.

I’ve attached a form of Recall Notice that you can use. Please note that this notice assumes you have created policies, procedures and processes around remote work, in-house work and most importantly, continuing health and safety. You need to provide those documents to your returning employees so they can read, learn and understand their rights & obligations.

Employees need 7 days’ notice to return. If they do not return, you may be able to terminate their positions without notice. However, that all depends on the reasons and then it can get complicated. In particular, as an employer, you need to be sensitive to the particular circumstances of each employee. Be flexible, be reasonable & be kind. Please feel free to reach out if you want help customizing your Recall Notice.

Good Luck and Congratulations on Your Rehires!

Termination Checklist – “Without Cause”

As a final instalment to the truly unfortunate side of an economic downturn coupled with a pandemic, I’m providing a link to a checklist for a “without cause” termination – when you need to fire someone but not because they’ve done something substantively wrong – for instance, you’ve had to restructure your services; or it just isn’t a good fit any more.

In the list, I’ve included actions that are considered respectful and those that are disrespectful. I’ve been the recipient of both, and always advise people to err on the side of doing too much, rather than tearing someone down when they are at their most vulnerable. There is almost never a reason to “walk someone out the door” on a without cause termination.

As always, please take and use and modify to suit your circumstances.

Employment Termination Checklist – Without Cause – May 2020

Extending those Temporary Layoff Notices

When COVID-19 restrictions first started impacting our lives and businesses, we provided a temporary layoff notice for use by anyone who was in the unfortunate circumstance of requiring its use. Now, with the 60 day limit of continual layoff coming up, and the Ministerial Order extending that limit to 120 days, we are providing an Extension of Temporary Layoff Notice for use by businesses. Please take this, change it at will to suit your purposes, improve it and share it. As a community, we can support one another.

Temporary Layoff Continuation Notice

COVID-19 TOOLS: Financial Forecasts

There’s been lots of conversation and news coverage about the financial impact that COVID-19 will have on Canadian Municipalities. Revenue Losses from services that need to continue (like Transit), or from interest earnings from deferred payments (like deferred Property Tax or Utility Payments) are going to hurt the top line numbers. Expense Increases from the response to the pandemic (like from redeployed civic staff or an increase in protective services) will just make the bottom line tougher to balance.

Not all Municipalities are in the same circumstance — sometimes it goes the other way. I’ve talked to some across the country who are seeing a decrease in their overall expenses (travel, conferences, etc), but no immediate increase on the expense side. I’m not sure how long that will last for, but that’s their immediate experience.

To help one of my colleagues with the financial planning in their muncipality, we created a ‘proof of concept’ COVID Scenario Planning Tool that they then used to build out their own understanding of financial impacts. We’ve posted it here for folks to use as a guide for their own planning. This is a Proof of Concept, and theres lots more detail that could be built in (like variable financial impacts, variable durations, etc), but that detail is best left to the folks who know their operations (and their responses) the best.

The Google Sheets file is linked here and is pretty rudimentary with basic instructions on the first sheet. Please feel free to download and apply whatever concepts you find helpful to your own municipal situation.