Tehkummah Township council given orders by ministry

Have to agree on an inspection investigator for the job

TEHKUMMAH—Following a complaint of employee harassment registered by Tehkummah clerk-treasurer Karen Gerrard (who alleged that she had been the victim), council heard from Roger Chenard, the municipality’s health and safety coordinator, at its most recent meeting.

Mr. Chenard gave councillors an update on the Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigation of the alleged incident(s).

On October 30, MOL inspector Paul Marut attended the municipality and met with Mr. Chenard and Joe Hannah, acting public works supervisor, acting as a senior supervisor for the municipality. While there, Mr. Marut examined the current policy in place regarding harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace.

“During this process, the inspector found that there were areas in the policy that were not clear and/or were ambiguous as well as some areas that were not in compliance directly with the act,” Mr. Chenard’s report to council states. “The inspector collected all available information and provided feedback regarding the requirements of the policy and the training of all staff which had already been started by the Health and Safety Coordinator since his employment earlier in October.”

The Ministry provided three orders, each with specific terms and deadlines: 1. The employer shall ensure that the harassment program includes measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person or other employer if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser. (November 30 completion date.); 2. The employer shall provide workers with information and instruction that is appropriate for the worker on the contents of the policy and program with respect to workplace harassment. At the time of the visit, the employer has not provided all workers with appropriate information and instruction on the contents of the policy and program with respect to workplace harassment. (November 30 completion date.); and 3. The employer shall cause an investigation to be conducted into the reported incidents/complaints of workplace harassment discussed today. This investigation is to be conducted, at the expense of the employer, by an impartial person possessing knowledge of the workplace harassment provision under the Occupational Health and Safety act and be qualified to conduct a workplace harassment investigation and to provide, at the expense of the employer, a written report by that person. At the time of this visit an investigation had not commenced. (January 31, 2018 completion date.)

Tehkummah placed a request for proposal for an investigator to conduct the MOL investigation, as this is not done by the ministry.

The municipality had heard from five interested parties, with the reeve supplying his own firm for consideration, and pushing for council to approve his submission that night.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said.

Mr. Chenard gently warned council that the MOL has to approve the investigator.

“What’s 24 hours?” Councillor Hierons asked the reeve, noting that the submission date for the request for proposals was November 22. “We don’t swing at the first pitch.”

Mr. Chenard noted that council can request more time from the MOL to be in compliance if needed.

Reeve Russell suggested that the health and safety coordinator was threatening them with Mr. Chenard responding by saying that he was simply helping them complete their due diligence. A back and forth between the merits of waiting for a review by all interested parties and a move to hire someone that night occurred between Councillor Hierons and Reeve Russell.

Council decided to meet as a committee of the whole following the council meeting to review the submissions to date with Mr. Chenard.

As of press time Monday, a firm or individual had not been chosen by council to act as MOL investigator.