The focus was on the #MeToo movement as Calgary councillors met for a strategic session on Wednesday aimed at preparing for upcoming budget discussions where council will set the financial agenda from 2019 to 2022.
Counc. George Cahal raised the topic in question period, asking what the city is doing to ensure staff are properly trained on sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I know for myself and my office staff – and everybody in the organization – it would be really beneficial to know what the boundaries are,” he said.
“So that we have a clear understanding of what those boundaries are and how to escalate the process if need be.”
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The movement, which has seen allegations brought against powerful men in Hollywood, in politics and in corporate America, has swept into Canada in recent weeks. Several Canadian politicians and business leaders, including Alberta MP Kent Hehr, are now also facing allegations.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday that the city has a duty to set the “highest standard of ethical behavior and the highest standard of workplace behavior.”
“Every single person who works here deserves the chance to wake up every morning and be excited about going to work,” he said.
“And every single person who works here deserves the chance to have the best possible career they can have, regardless of what they look like, or their gender, or who they worship. Or whom they love. This stuff really, really matters.”
City manager Jeff Fielding told council that in his 40 years of public service, he’s never seen such a “sea change” in culture and behavior as he’s witnessed in the last six months.
“As a corporation, I want to emphasize to the council that we’re on top of this and we’ve done the appropriate things,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have problems from time to time.”
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Fielding said administration is focused on creating a safe and respectful work environment and that there are a number of measures open to employees – including human resources and the city’s whistle blower program.
-With files from Aurelio Perri