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Guelph-Eramosa has paid $154,000 to terminated employees since 2012

Guelph-Eramosa has paid $154,000 to terminated employees since 2012

by Chris Daponte

WELLINGTON CTY. - Guelph-Eramosa has now provided settlement information it previously refused to grant the Advertiser.

CAO Ian Roger, who blamed past refusals on a mix-up and “communication” error, informed the newspaper on Jan. 4 the township has paid $154,014 to terminated employees since 2012.

That leaves Erin as the only municipality in the county that has refused to provide settlement information requested by the Advertiser on Aug. 11.

An article in last week’s newspaper included information for Wellington County and five of its lower tier municipalities, noting Erin and Guelph-Eramosa had repeatedly refused to provide the information.

After reading the article, Roger contacted the Advertiser to say township staff got their “wires crossed” and he agreed the settlement figure “is something we could provide.”

Asked for clarification, Roger stated staff rejected several requests for the information because, “I think they were going back to your original request.”

The Aug. 11 request had asked for annual settlements paid to terminated employees from 2012 to 2017. It was later altered to a total figure for the six-year period to alleviate possible privacy concerns.

“I would agree with the staff and lawyers that it gets down to being too personal,” Roger said of the original request.

He added providing a six-year total is “not a problem.”

However, the Advertiser’s official freedom of information (FOI) request on Oct. 13 made it clear the newspaper was not seeking annual figures.

In the township’s Nov. 17 rejection of the FOI request, clerk Meaghen Reid acknowledged the newspaper was seeking “the total amount of severance payments made to terminated employees ... from Jan. 1, 2012 to Aug. 11, 2017.”

The Advertiser again clarified in a Dec. 18 telephone interview that it was seeking just a six-year total.

At that time, Reid stated the township had reviewed the FOI request and its decision is outlined in its Nov. 17 response. That letter states the municipality can refuse to disclose personal information as well as details that “could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests ... or the competitive position of an institution.”

The Advertiser appealed the refusal on Nov. 23 to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario.

On Dec. 29 the newspaper received correspondence from the IPC stating a mediator was assigned to its appeal.

On Jan. 8 the newspaper informed the mediator the appeal was no longer necessary, as the township had provided the information.

“It’s all about communication,” Roger said on Jan. 4.

He added he would be happy to help whenever newspaper reporters feel they aren’t getting answers from township staff.

“If they’re not listening and getting you the right information ... that’s what I’m here for,” Roger said.

January 12, 2018

 
 

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