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City of Saint John announces further workforce adjustments required to balance 2021 budget


The City of Saint John has an action plan to address the $10 million budget deficit in 2021. Over half of the deficit will be achieved through adjustments to the workforce, which is the single largest cost of any municipal budget.

Common Council approved the City Manager’s recommendation to allocate further cost savings across its workgroups as part of the plan to address 60 per cent of the projected $10 million deficit in 2021 through workforce adjustments.

As part of the adjustments, the Saint John Fire Department will address its share of the cost-savings measures through a 2021 budget reduction of $1.875 million, the Police budget will be reduced by $1.3 million and Transit will see a reduction of $850,000. Details on reductions to the other workgroups are available on the City’s website.

“While these decisions are never easy, Council has been clear in its commitment to control costs,” said City Manager John Collin. “The goal is to realign the delivery of quality municipal services on a smaller, affordable budget.”

Following Monday’s Council meeting, letters will be sent to the Saint John Police Commission and Saint John Transit Commission to notify them of the reductions to their respective budgets. The new totals represent slight increases over previous figures provided to the Commissions and help account for the additional $1 million in workforce adjustments approved by Council on May 4. Each Commission will be responsible to address the savings within their 2021 budgets. 

For the Fire Service, as a City-managed department, the City Manager informed Council that staff will enter into a consultation period with the union before bringing a recommended plan to Council on June 22. 

Plans to reduce City management positions and the inside workforce have already been approved by Council. The City’s outside workforce is awaiting ratification of a new contract, with details expected from that process in the coming week.

“We must put the best interest of taxpayers first and get the City in a stronger financial position where we can afford the services we offer and begin to grow,” said Mayor Don Darling. “The goal is to make the necessary budgetary decisions while minimizing the impact on our community as much as possible.”

An operational audit of the Saint John Transit Service is underway to identify efficiencies and determine the best system design for a city of our size, on an affordable budget. The focus of the review is on serving main routes and priority neighbourhoods. The audit is expected to be completed by August of this year, and results will help inform the Commission’s budgetary decisions for 2021. 


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