UCC cuts key positions in Ottawa and Winnipeg

by Christopher Guly

OTTAWA - In an effort to save money, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) has laid off its two principal spokespeople.

Effective August 1, national public relations director Ihor Shawarsky and Andrij Hluchowecky, who managed the UCC's Ottawa- based information bureau, will no longer work for the congress.

The UCC's finance committee made the decision following a meeting of the congress presidium at the end of June, said UCC President Oleh Romaniw.

"We simply cannot keep everybody and have to be fiscally responsible," said Mr. Romaniw, when reached by telephone at his home in Winnipeg.

Sylvia Ostryzniuk, who worked as a receptionist at the downtown Winnipeg UCC headquarters, also lost her job.

The news came as a shock to Mr. Shawarsky, who told The Weekly he was not given any indication the UCC planned to eliminate his position. "I feel like anyone else would feel when they lose their job," said the former Winnipeg radio news reporter who became the congress' PR director five years ago. "I'm now looking for work."

Mr. Hluchowecky could not be reached for comment. The 34-year-old Montreal native had helped establish the UCC Information Bureau in Ottawa nine years ago. Although he took a brief sabbatical last year to manage the Canada-Ukraine Partners Program (CUPP), Mr. Hluchowecky remained the key UCC contact in Canada's capital city.

Of late, he had juggled his bureau responsibilities with promoting CUPP and recently held an open house to officially launch the UCC's new office location in downtown Ottawa.

The move was made to save the congress money; $900 (US $670) a month, compared with a monthly lease of $1,500 (US $1,100). Mr. Romaniw could not confirm how much the UCC would save by eliminating three of its staff positions.

Mr. Hluchowecky's sudden departure, left some of his main allies stunned. "We worked very well with Andrij, and he was definitely a strong support for CUPP here and in Ukraine," said Paulette Schatz, program manager of the Canadian Society for International Health. "What this does certainly affects morale."

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, research director for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, posted an e-mail message on the Internet chastising the UCC for its downsizing operations. "While we can appreciate how important it is for the UCC to restructure itself, perhaps it is time to seriously examine whether a national office is required in Winnipeg or would be more properly situated in the nation's capital. If the UCC is to have any future - it cannot continue to self-emasculate itself, particularly by doing away with its best and brightest people."

Mr. Romaniw acknowledged the congress' decision was an unpopular one. "There are a lot of disappointed people from east to west," he said. "I know the Ukrainian Embassy isn't happy because they relied on Andrij a lot."

However, the UCC president added that he could not envision why the congress could not "maintain as high a level of service" in Ottawa with Lydia Migus, who remains and will continue to serve as administrator.

Five employees at UCC's Winnipeg office also keep their jobs, including the executive director, Lydia Hawryshkiw. Still, Mr. Romaniw said he was not sure how the UCC would fill the gap left by the departure of its two key public affairs employees. "We will have to wait and see how the pieces come together."

When reached by telephone at his office in Kingston, Ontario, Dr. Luciuk said the staff cuts represent a "certain malaise" from the UCC executive. "Believe it or not, I think the UCC has a role to play in Ukrainian Canadian society," said one of the organization's most outspoken critics. "But I think you have a situation where you have all these arms with no head, and the body is rotten."

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 18, 1996, No. 33, Vol. LXIV

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