Sackville Town Council has been asked to take a more direct role in solving persistent personnel problems within the town’s fire department.
During a presentation to council last night, volunteer firefighter Laura Thurston requested that council ask to see the final report from the consulting firm that is assessing allegations of bullying, harassment, favouritism and discrimination against women within the fire service.
“To help avoid a potential conflict of interest and ensure the integrity of the information, I’m asking council to consider meeting, discussing and approving obtaining the full, detailed workplace assessment report and recommendations directly from Montana Consulting for both Sackville Fire & Rescue and the employees of the town,” Thurston said.
She also said that when she asked the consulting firm who would receive their final report and recommendations, she was told they would be provided to CAO Jamie Burke.
“As an official within our direct chain of command, this potentially could create a conflict of interest,” Thurston added, especially if council relied on a summary of the report prepared by the CAO.
Thurston told Warktimes in April, that both Burke and former CAO Phil Handrahan declined several times to meet when she tried to bring problems within the fire department to their attention.
“They wouldn’t even sit with me; they wouldn’t listen to what I had to say,” she said.
During later interviews last night with Warktimes and CHMA News, Thurston elaborated on her calls for everyone, including members of town council, to work together to solve the fire department’s problems.
“I expect to see an action plan coming out of this report,” she said.
“We’re all in this for a common goal, to make the fire department better, to make it the place that we all know that it can be because the work that we do there is something that we’re all very proud of,” Thurston told CHMA’s Erica Butler.
Mayor Mesheau responded to Thurston’s request by saying that council will wait until the workplace assessment is complete before it decides on any next steps.
“Council will determine at that point in time if anything further needs to take place based on what comes through the CAO,” the Mayor said later during the public question period.
“I think we’re getting ourselves ahead of things here,” Mesheau added.
“Ultimately, we have to let this process see itself through and council has indicated in the past that they’re committed to seeing this process through and we’ll eagerly await to see what comes from it.”
Thurston says that while she didn’t expect an answer from council last night, she was disappointed that the mayor said council would wait to see what comes from the CAO after the workplace assessment is complete.
“To me, I feel that’s unacceptable,” she told CHMA.
“I think that my request to get that report independently themselves is there and I would simply expect an answer as to why they don’t feel that they can do that.”
To listen to Erica Butler’s radio interview with Laura Thurston, click here.