Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, met with General Synod staff on Oct. 5 to discuss major infrastructure changes made to achieve a balanced budget for 2011.
Fourteen staff positions have been affected, 10 positions have been eliminated, six people received lay-off notices, while others have been offered different or new jobs. Further details about how the cuts will affect each department will not be made public until the staff members involved have had time to decide whether they want the new position they have been offered, or the severance. Every General Synod department has been affected to some degree.
The cuts are in keeping with a 2009 decision that deficit budgeting be eliminated by 2012. While cost-cutting measures over the past two years have included staff layoffs, the biggest reduction remained to be articulated in 2011, with an estimated CAN$1.1 million (US$1.085 million) to be cut from the General Synod operating budget.
Information on the actual budget reduction amount is not yet available because the draft budget is subject to approval by the Financial Management Committee and the Council of General Synod. Hiltz offered some context for the cuts, explaining that 80 to 84 percent of General Synod revenue comes from diocesan giving. Since 1992, these contributions have been declining at a rate of about three percent per year.
Both programs and staff will be affected by the cuts. "When you are in budget restraint ... you have to make tough decisions [and] say, 'This has been good and noble work, but we no longer have the capacity to continue," said Hiltz. "And so, unfortunately, staff live with the consequences of diminished resources."
He noted that the management team at Church House, the church's administrative offices, tried to handle the job losses and changes as compassionately as possible. "The shape of what we knew would be a difficult day in the community here was very much influenced by input from staff through the chaplain," he said. Each staff member met with directors individually prior to an all-staff meeting in the afternoon. A brief prayer service followed. Chaplain Gordon Light and employee assistance personnel were on site all day. "This community knew that it was upheld by the prayers of the whole church across the country," said Hiltz, referring to many messages of support that had come to Church House.
The new organizational model resembles a diocesan structure, said Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary for the national church. Like a diocesan bishop, the primate will now oversee departments connected with ministry and mission such as Faith, Worship and Ministry and Indigenous ministries, while the general secretary will oversee finance, philanthropy and communications.
The primate outlined the guiding principles that informed the cuts and restructuring as "a focus on mission, being good stewards of the resources we have at our disposal, organizational effectiveness and administrative efficiencies."