Report finds no gender discrimination, abuse on RM of St. Andrews council

A report from the RM of St. Andrews found no gender discrimination on council. Getty Images

The Rural Municipality of St. Andrews says an internal investigation into workplace harassment, gender discrimination and abuse, is closed.

In a statement, the RM’s Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Weremy said the municipality conducted in-depth research into the claims, which surfaced this summer in the media. The RM worked with Winnipeg law firm Pitblado’s Tracy Epp to conduct a thorough assessment of the workplace environment.

Although the specifics of that report will remain confidential, due to the sensitive information discussed, the RM said in the statement that the assessment concluded that there wasn’t gender-based discrimination.

It suggested, however, there’s room for improvement in how the council members interact with each other and staff. Training opportunities will be pursued to ensure a respectful workplace.

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Council member Joy Sul, who is currently running for mayor, brought the initial concerns forward and filed a discrimination complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. She told 680 CJOB she disagrees with the report’s assessment.

“The harassment and bullying I have experienced while elected is very real,” said Sul, the only woman on the St. Andrews council. “It’s been witnessed by audience members who have come to council meetings. Emails have come in concerning my treatment from other council members.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of Manitoba civil servants have been sexually harassed, says study

While Sul said she’s pleased with the acknowledgement there’s room for improvement in the way RM staff interact, she was less comfortable with the idea of the report being made public, citing concerns with the way she’s portrayed in its pages.

“The report, I feel, when I read it, is very one-sided,” said Sul. “It’s very biased. The main part of the report focuses on myself – against myself. I’d have to do a lot of defending in my name if it went public.”

Global News is endeavoring to get a copy of the report. The RM said it will be moving forward with the reports recommendations and will have no further comment.

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