The city has fired building inspectors as it continues its investigation into allegations employees were slacking off while on the job.
Global News has learned six inspectors have been fired as the city continues to do a deep dive into employees’ work days.
The internal investigation into the city’s Planning, Property and Development (PPD) department stemmed from a private investigation that caught several employees on camera making personal shopping trips, running errands and taking extended lunch breaks during work time.
An anonymous group of Winnipeg residents and business owners spent $18,000 and hired a private investigator to track the department’s employees, after years of complaints about long wait times for permits and inspections.
In previous weeks, three city building inspectors had left amid the investigation and three more were suspended without pay indefinitely.
Since the investigation began, 12 employees are no longer with the department.
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The city said over the past two months, its human resource department has conducted interviews with 55 building inspectors, 10 supervisors, and members of the Management staff.
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They also examined nearly 80,000 entries made into the PPD software systems from the period of January 2019 – March 2019 to try and determine work activity levels of staff, and reviewed approximately 1,500 daily work inspection sheets and mileage claims from January to March.
“This investigation has the ability to teach us a lot. There is much time invested and the lessons here will help improve this department and also could apply across the organization. It is expected that a report will be provided to the CAO in the coming days,” the city said in an emailed statement to Global News.
A city spokesperson wouldn’t release specific details on the nature of disciplinary action taken, including the names and positions of those disciplined, calling them human resources matters.
After a three-month investigation, the group released the footage to the media in April, and refused to give it to the city until a public inquiry was called.
The city subsequently launched an internal investigation, interviewing more than 65 staff members, and eventually paid the anonymous group behind the video $18,000 for the footage.
The footage allegedly showed workers running personal errands, taking extended lunch and smoke breaks, and spending hours at the gym.
The video surveillance and reports appear to show the staff reporting to work at Fort Garry Place before being seen:
- 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
John Prystanski, a former city councillor and the lawyer representing the anonymous group, has previously told Global News the video showed 16 inspectors who worked on average three hours a day.
The employees under surveillance all make between $75,000 to $150,000.
Prystanski said the anonymous group is made up of concerned individual Winnipeggers – small contractors, homeowners, and people who have been frustrated by the inspection process.
In May a report from the province’s Treasury Board Secretariat found development planning at Winnipeg City Hall is dysfunctional and is chasing away investment.
“There is a general perception that the City of Winnipeg has a broken culture, and system, which has resulted in significant anger and frustration,” the report says.
–With files from Austin Siragusa, and the Canadian Press