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City of Weyburn to enact whistleblower policy, harassment prevention

Council repeals former policy in favour of upgraded ones, most Sask cities moving in this direction
City Hall 8981
City council to enact new whistleblower policy

WEYBURN - The City of Weyburn will be enacting a new whistleblower policy as well as a policy for harassment prevention for council and senior administration.

The policy will be replacing a procedure that involved an administrative review body, which was repealed following a review and a report by an HR consultant. The report noted that most cities in Saskatchewan are moving in this direction, and are instituting instead a whistleblower policy, along with policies for respectful conduct harassment prevention.

The whistleblower policy will ensure that employees will have their concerns or complaints taken seriously, their identity will be protected, and they will not be subjected to retaliation, detrimental treatment, reprisals or harassment as a result of lodging a complaint.

The policy includes procedures for the prevention, detection, reporting and investigating of suspected wrongdoing, as well as processes for reporting and resolving any complaints of retaliation.

In regard to respectful conduct and harassment prevention, the new policy will ensure that City of Weyburn employees, senior administration and city council members will have a positive work environment that is respectful and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

The policy is meant to augment all provincial legislation relating to harassment-free workplaces, and notes that council members and senior administration staff are leaders and role models for the City of Weyburn and its boards, commissions and committees.

“I think it’s really important for staff to have this, and for council, because we are the role models for Weyburn,” said Coun. Laura Morrissette.

Mayor Marcel Roy said he would be a dissenting voice in this discussion, as his concern is “a whistleblower policy most certainly does not work all of the time. It does not protect people.”

“I think the policy was very well written,” commented Coun. Mel Van Betuw in support of the policy.

Coun. John Corrigan agreed, saying it was far better than what the City had in place.

“We can evaluate it as time goes by, and if we need to improve it, we can,” he added.

Coun. Ryan Janke said the mayor had a good point, but he noted, “It’s the people behind the policy that’s going to make it work.”

On the policy for a respectful and harassment-free work environment, city manager Mathew Warren said, “We truly believe in a respectful workplace.”

Mayor Roy said this policy is good, but he wanted to see it fleshed out more with better wording in the definitions, as they need to be clearer as to what is or is not harassment. He was concerned also with frivolous complaints, and said, “It’s going to be who gets to the phone first.”

As politicians, he added, they should have more leeway for the expression of opinions and not be afraid of being accused of being disrespectful because one person might misinterpret something being said in a discussion.

Coun. Janke disagreed, noting that putting more details into the policy will only make it worse. “I’m more confident with it staying vague,” he said.

“Nothing’s ever perfect, but we need a jumping-off spot to start with,” said Coun. Morrissette.

“I think this is a really good policy,” added Coun. Jeff Richards. “What this is about is making sure people are safe when they work here.”

Coun. Van Betuw said these are good guidelines to work with and the policy was well-written, as he indicated his support for it.

“It sets a good workplace environment,” added Coun. Corrigan.

Coun. Dick Michel noted that the mayor’s comments began a good discussion on the policy, but he would not support the mayor’s concerns.

“I can see where you’re coming from, but I will support this policy,” he added.

The two policies were passed by a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Roy against.