EPC votes to make report of investigation into city workers allegedly slacking off made public
The Executive Policy Committee voted unanimously to allow the report into the investigation of city workers to be made public.
Right now the city’s Chief Administrative Officer’s office is continuing the investigating after media outlets in Winnipeg, including Global News, were sent surveillance notes and hidden camera videos allegedly showing inspectors in the city’s Planning, Property and Development not putting in a full day’s work.
The reports appear to show employees making personal shopping trips, running errands and taking extended lunch breaks at restaurants like Hooters.
A group of Winnipeg residents and business owners say they hired a private investigating company to track the inspectors, after years of complaints about long wait times for routine permits and inspections.
The city’s CAO Doug McNeil says the internal investigation is ongoing and they’re almost done interviewing dozens of people.
“We’ve talked about their phones, we can check on the clients in terms of what they requested in terms of an inspection and did someone come,” he said.
“The whole idea is to figure out what have they been doing, do they go home early? Or whatever the case may be. Probing questions to find out what their activities have been.”
WATCH: City investigating after ‘concerning’ hidden camera investigation of Winnipeg employees wasting time
He said there are some limitations on what details will be able to be released.
“We have to be careful so I’m going to rely heavily on the Director of HR and the Director of Labour Relations in terms of what can we release publicly. The public does need to know what happened. So I support this motion to come forward with the report when the investigation,” McNeil said.
The team spent $18,000 to follow inspectors for three months spanning from January until March. The report sent to media outlets shows staff:
- Going to Costco for nearly two hours before going to Starbucks for an hour
- Going on errand runs to places like Dollarama, Liquor Mart, Superstore and Benjamin Moore
- Spending about two hours at the gym
- Two-hour stops at Tim Hortons
- An employee snow blowing a residential driveway
- Lunch at Hooters
- Extended smoking breaks
The employees under surveillance all make between $75,000 to $150,000.
The report sent to media hasn’t been sent to the city. Mayor Brian Bowman said if the group wants to remain anonymous, they do have other options.
“Contact the Manitoba Ombudsman as a result of the new whistle blower protection applying to the City of Winnipeg. That additional avenue is available should any third party doesn’t want to make information available with the city to assist us with the investigation,” Bowman said.
Bowman said it will still be weeks until the investigation is expected to be complete.
Councillor Janice Lukes said this issue has generated a lot of buzz.
“This has created a massive amount of calls and inquiries and questions,” she said.
“There’s a problem, regardless if these allegations are true or not. I expect the report to identify what went wrong and where the responsibility lays. I want the report to come forward so the public can see it and then we will have the necessary background for council to make decisions and changes.”
If council approves, the report into the investigation will be made public once it’s complete.
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