Letter to the Editor: People Are Talking About CBRM Staffing

There are two sides to a pancake; however, every day there are lots of chats on staffing at CBRM, whether it be in the coffee shops, taverns, living rooms or wherever.

Sometimes they start with: “It’s who you know down there.”

Or someone mentions a name of someone just hired that has the same last name as someone who is (or has been) on the inside.

Or possibly someone mentions that the people who plow their street, gave them a ticket, fixed their water line or put out their house fire kinda all look the same.

CBRM Civic Centre

All of this got me thinking, so I decided to ask some questions as a resident and taxpayer.

In an exchange of emails between myself, the chief administrative officer (CAO), the human resources manager and the diversity manager beginning on 19 April 2018, although like pulling teeth, I found out the following, which I would like to share with fellow residents:

  • According to the Human Resources Recruitment and Selection Policy created 12 November 1995 (amended 21 March 2005 and 17 April 2007) selection committees are to be composed of three people: one from human resources and two trained in applicant selection from the appropriate department. CBRM managers would not confirm if this is the format they use or how the screening of applicants is done to insure there are no conflicts of interest which would result in having to replace a selection committee member.
  • Seniority, which went out in the Stone Age, is still used as a tie breaker between equally qualified candidates. (Affirmative Action, intended to right previous wrongs to various groups, is preferred in most government organizations.) Reminds me of the Devco/Sysco years when the first question was: “Does your father work here?”
  • CBRM staff would not confirm if selection committees are “diverse.”
  • There are no activities whatsoever around modern-day initiatives like Employment Equity or Affirmative Action to support diversity (i.e. the inside should look like the outside) in their workforce. There are no committees, meetings, objectives, brochures or training for staff or management – there is absolutely nothing. These things have been promoted in organizations, particularly governments, all over North America for at least 20 years.
  • The closest thing they have to a diversity committee was the writing of the Diversity Committee Governance Policy on 17 May 2011 (amended 15 August 2017). It calls for a committee of 12 people from outside City Hall, representing a cross section of society, who would advise on diversity issues. None of the positions was ever filled. That was a hard one to understand, since the two top execs are a gay man (the mayor) and a woman (the CAO).
  • CBRM staff advise the Fire Department is only just preparing a Management for Diversity policy, reviewing their facilities and testing to see if they suit both genders. They should be aware that diversity includes many groups, not just two genders.
  • CBRM staff advise the Police Department is making progress in terms of diversity, but has a way to go.
  • CBRM staff did not mention other departments, like Water and Public Works. Wonder why?
  • On a related matter, there is no basic harassment training for staff and management in terms of the practical stuff as to where the line is crossed. They plan to train management and supervisors to process sexual harassment claims (not other kinds) in terms of paperwork if an incident occurs.
  • Derek Mombourquette’s Municipal Affairs Department does not monitor staffing actions and policies as it should, but I’m not surprised because it didn’t even monitor the $30,000 office Xmas party in China chasing the Fairy Tale Container Pier (used as an applause line/vote-getter for past 25 years) or the lucrative contract extension for Port of Sydney CEO Marlene Usher, sister of the CBRM CAO Marie Walsh.

As of 16 May 2018, a call for various committees has been posted on Facebook, a weak attempt by the CBRM to cover its tracks. As one of the Island’s largest employers, it is time for the CBRM to enter the 21st century and set an example for others. Council and Municipal Affairs must step up to the plate and keep our CBRM administrators’ feet to the fire in terms of accountability and transparency. We are tired of being played and listening to the steady drone of “We’re broke, we’re broke” coming out of City Hall. City Hall and our tax dollars should not be used as a playground for management to reward themselves and friends.

Enough is enough.

Ray MacDonald