By Trevor Busch
As part of a blood drive initiative next month, the Town of Taber has consented to allow employee participation during regular work hours.
In May, the town is sponsoring a blood donor drive — “Together Taber Saves Lives” — in conjunction with supporting Green Shirt Day and honouring the passing of Humboldt Broncos defenceman Logan Boulet. Participating organizations include the Municipal District of Taber, St. Mary School and the local Kinsmen club.
For staff only the town is hosting a “What’s Your Type” session in the White Room of the Taber Community Centre on May 6 from 9-11 a.m.
“Employees can go there from 9 to 11 a.m., get their finger pricked, and they’ll get told what type of blood they are,” said human resources manager Dave Duske at council’s April 8 meeting. “During that time, Canadian Blood Services staff will be there trying to get employees to commit to donating some blood. They won’t do the donation actually at that point, they will just make reservations for a later date.”
The town has booked three ‘life buses’ for May 9, 23, and 30 to transport up to seven town employees each trip to the Lethbridge Donor Centre to make blood donations. More dates may be added if additional employees choose to donate.
“Mr. Armfelt has been generous enough to allow employees to do this during work hours,” continued Duske. “So that bus will come about 9:45 and will return at approximately 1 p.m. If there’s more demand for those three buses, we can reserve more buses.”
Coun. Joe Strojwas questioned if Lethbridge Canadian Blood Services maintains a mobile blood donation unit that could assist with the town’s drive within the confines of the municipality.
“No they do not,” said Duske. “We talked about that — and they did have a mobile service at one time that was doing that — but because of cost and budget restrictions they do not do that anymore.”
Lethbridge Canadian Blood Services plans to poster the downtown business area two weeks prior to May 1, encouraging residents to participate in the blood drive by attending the Lethbridge Donor Centre to make a donation. The organization has also scheduled events at the Co-Op and St. Mary School and will be advertising their drive with bag stuffers.
While in favour of the initiative, Coun. Garth Bekkering pointed out administration’s contention that there would be no financial implication involved isn’t entirely accurate when factoring in the paid hours of employees taking part.
“From what I read in the RFD, it says there’s ‘no financial implication.’ If the staff that are being transported to Lethbridge for this donation are getting paid, isn’t there a financial implication, sir?”
“Yes, in the sense that they’re getting paid for their normal hours,” replied Duske. “No additional cost would be otherwise incurred.”
CAO Cory Armfelt would defend this expense, suggesting town employees work significant hours during holiday periods.
“On that note, because I thought somebody might bring that up, the staff stay here until 4:30 p.m. on Christmas eve — every Christmas eve — despite the fact that they wish to leave at noon, and many of our neighbours allow their staff to go at noon, ours stay until 4:30 on Christmas eve because that’s the end of the work day on Christmas eve. So for any staff member that wishes to take three hours and donate blood, I think that’s a reasonable consideration to give to staff that work hard, that are dedicated to the town, that stay here without complaint until 4:30 on Christmas eve.”
Bekkering suggested he was only concerned about the accuracy of stating there is no financial implication behind the decision.
“I was not questioning Mr. Armfelt in his veracity, I just found it interesting that there is no financial implication, when indeed there is. I’m not questioning it, though.”
Coun. Louie Tams was on board with the idea.
“I, for one, applaud this, I think it’s a great gesture.”
Announcements of the initiative will be made through the Corn Husk Chronicles, the Town of Taber’s website, the town’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and via email to employees.
“I’d just like to say I think this is great,” said Deputy Mayor Carly Firth. “I’m really pleased that the town is supporting this, transporting and allowing employees to spend their work hours. I’m a regular donor myself, and I would love to join you guys if you’d have me.”
Following discussion, council voted unanimously (6-0) to accept the initiative as information with a caveat allowing town staff to participate during regular hours.
Mayor Andrew Prokop was absent.