The City of Winnipeg said Thursday it will pay $18,000 for a report into alleged workplace misconduct by its inspectors, which was commissioned by a private group upset over past dealings with the planning department.
"The city is in the process of receiving the report and is finalizing the legal requirements for obtaining it. There was a cost for obtaining the documents and the city will be paying the (group) about $18,000," a city statement said.
The report, compiled by a private investigation firm, will be part of the city’s own investigation into the planning, property and development department.
"While this is a unique situation, it is not uncommon for an organization to rely on external reports or services to assist in an internal investigation. That (internal) investigation continues and we now anticipate it should be completed within the next several weeks. Council will be informed of the results of the investigation upon its completion," the city said.
On April 4, the Free Press reported that 17 inspectors had been placed under surveillance during a 28-day period.
The firm, which documented its investigation in notes, photos and video that were shared with the Free Press, found evidence of widespread workplace misconduct.
Inspectors were photographed and videotaped taking hours-long lunch breaks, shopping and running personal errands on city time, and slipping away from work early, effectively cutting shifts in half.
The investigators said only one employee appeared to be putting in an honest day’s work. On average, it’s alleged the inspectors put in less than three hours of work each shift.
On April 5, the city held a news conference to announce it was launching an investigation into the allegations. Winnipeg chief corporate services officer Michael Jack said the internal probe was expected to last a few weeks.
A request to interview Jack was not granted by deadline Thursday.
The spokesman for the citizens group — which is composed of homeowners, business owners and construction contractors who’ve had negative experiences with the city department — said now that the city has the report, there are no excuses for not taking action.
"It’s disappointing, but not really surprising to the group, that nothing has transpired since the report was presented to the media in early April," the spokesman said.
"The city suggested the full unedited investigation report would both help and enhance the internal review. We feel it is in the best interest of Winnipeg taxpayers that we hand over the full unedited copy of the report," he said.
"The city will now be able to confirm the names and actions of its employees in the report and engage in appropriate action."
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said on Thursday he didn't know when the public service would finish its investigation. He said he considers the allegations serious.
"If the allegations are true, there are a number of people who shouldn’t be working for the City of Winnipeg," Bowman said.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Updated on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 6:02 PM CDT: Write-thru posted
7:44 PM: Details added in writethru