More heads are rolling at City Hall as a result of a probe into city building inspectors’ work habits.
Winnipeg’s interim CAO Mike Ruta said Wednesday eight people were fired and seven were suspended after an internal review into the city’s Planning, Property and Development (PPD) department.
The probe 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.
“We are deeply disappointed to have found that there was truth to the allegations,” Ruta said after delivering details of the report to city councillors Wednesday.
“We realize this matter was more than just breaking trust between us as an employer and our employees — we also broke the trust of the public and the trust of our elected officials.
“Unfortunately what we discovered was even more than broken trust — it was also theft — theft in the form of time and theft in the form of fraudulent mileage claims.”
The city reviewed 80,000 documents, 1,500 daily work inspection sheets, reviewed 63 employee files, and interviewed nearly 100 staff as part of the months-long the probe, said Ruta.
As well as the employees who were fired or suspended, another four were reprimanded in writing and one has received a non-disciplinary letter.
WATCH: Global News’ Brittany Greeslade reports on the firings and suspensions of city employees following an investigation into the work habits of city building inspectors.
Ruta was unable to say whether the city would pursue the matter criminally and would not say whether the employees found to have stolen would be expected to reimburse the city.
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Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman called the report significant and said it speaks to checks and balances that should have already been in place.
“This is the start of a process that i will expect will have increased scrutiny,” he said, adding those caught cheating the system should be held accountable.
“If there are appropriate avenues that are permissible to recoup and hold folks accountable, in addition to whats laid out here today, I would expect they would be exploring any and all resources.”
While Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxdedo-Westwood) is pleased to see the employees disciplined as a result of the review, he said more needs to be done.
“It’s very disappointing that this was a five-month investigation with very little action or detail provided,” he said, calling for a top-down review of all city departments and business.
“We need to get to the core of the problem — we need to get to the culture that created this problem.
“That’s just one department, this is a culture throughout the city.”
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Ruta said a review will be done of all field operations in every department, with help from an outside consultant “to ensure that there is consistency in their procedures and in their management.”
The review will also cover the structure of each department, the management, and the hiring practices, he added.
“To move forward, we need to learn from the situation,” he said.
News about the controversy broke when hidden-camera footage of civic employees slacking off on the job – doing everything from extended smoke breaks to taking two hours off to hang out at a Tim Hortons – was made public in April.
An anonymous group of concerned Winnipeggers – small contractors, homeowners, and people who have been frustrated by the inspection process – sold the footage to the city for a reported $18,000.
–With files from Brittany Greenslade
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