Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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New hire no longer on the job at twp.

Seven weeks into a three-year contract, Woolwich is back on the market for someone to fill the newly-created executive assistant/communications position. The previous hire’s work visa expired, forcing her to leave the job Thursday. Saskia Koning, a South African citizen who had been in the country for about a year, started with the township on Apr. 26. Chief administrative officer David Brenneman and Mayor Todd Cowan deemed her the only qualified candidate among some 120 people who applied for the job.

Her hiring was controversial from the start. The position itself was never fully justified. The pay range of $43,000 to $53,000 plus generous benefits were far above national averages for administrative assistants. That Koning’s qualifications did not appear to match the job description posted by the township served to highlight the fact a friend of the mayor’s was hired for a job he led the charge to create.

She was hired despite the fact her visa was set to expire in June. In order to receive a new visa, Koning needed clearance from Immigration Canada based on a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, according to HRSDC. The township was responsible for the LMO application, needing to show there were no Canadian workers qualified to do the job.

Woolwich was unable to receive that clearance from HRSDC, however.

“Unfortunately, HRSDC has determined that they cannot grant a positive LMO,” Brenneman said in a statement Thursday, noting the job posting did not follow necessary HRSDC guidelines, including posting the opening on the agency’s job bank.

“This is a step the township does not normally take as part of the recruitment process because the municipality has found that more targeted and focused advertising via professional publications, websites and e-blasts are more effective and efficient and ensures that the most qualified candidate is hired.”

Although only on the job a short time, Koning made a contribution to the township, he maintained.

“The Township of Woolwich regrets to see Ms. Koning leave, but is thankful for her role in helping define this communications/admin position for her much-needed replacement.”

The process to find that replacement is now underway. Council has not reconsidered its decision to create the position during February’s budget deliberations, and both the mayor and CAO maintain that Koning’s short-lived hiring was not a waste, saying the job would have been reposted because there were no other suitable candidates the first time around.

“In light of Ms. Koning’s education, experience and accomplishments, in a very short time the township has received commendable value for the investment in wages, and the only additional costs that will need to be incurred now will be associated with the recruitment process,” said Brenneman. “Had the township not hired Ms. Koning, we would have proceeded to re-advertise the position and incurred those costs regardless.”

The salary range, which council has opted not to address, remains the same.

At almost $50,000 plus full benefits, the position pays about 50 per cent above private-sector averages for administrative assistance jobs – about $35,000 – and much more than entry-level offerings, which run closer to $25,000. Executive assistants, with more experience and responsibility, can earn closer to the range offered by the township.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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  1. There was no controversy regarding the township’s hiring of Miss Konig until Steve Kannon and The Observer created it. The personal attacks on Miss Konig’s character and reputation were despicable, and show just bias this so-called newspaper is. Taking a pic and recycling the same information “gleaned’ off Facebook, over and over again, show how little Mr Kannon and The Observer actually know about Miss Konig or her qualifications. If they knew anything about her they would know she was more than qualified to be an assistant/communications co-ordinator to a small town mayor. The township was lucky to have her in its employ.

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