Sackville says details in consultant’s report on fire dept. woes will not be made public

A consultant’s report on how to fix persistent bullying, harassment and the flouting of safety rules in Sackville Fire & Rescue will remain confidential, according to a statement posted today on the town’s website.

“The assessment provides a comprehensive review of the Fire Department’s operations,” it says.

“There are several areas that will require attention in order to address the 20 recommendations provided in the report. These actions will be implemented by the Chief Administrative Officer with the support of Council and will include dialogue and consultation with firefighters,” it adds.

The statement notes that both town council and members of the fire department have been briefed on the report.

“As to be expected, since the results and recommendations are human resources related, they will not be made public and will remain confidential,” it says.

Persistent complaints

In April, the town hired Montana Consulting of Moncton to review fire department operations after former and current volunteer firefighters accused town officials of ignoring their complaints about bullying, harassment, discrimination and favouritism in Sackville Fire & Rescue.

Those complaints became public after former firefighter Kevin Scott sent a copy of his resignation letter to Warktimes along with similar letters from several former colleagues who had given him permission to release them.

Scott says he counted 17 resignations over a period of four years with no response from the fire chief, two CAOs or members of town council.

Scott, along with about 30 current and former firefighters attended a two-and-a-half hour meeting Thursday evening during which the consultants asked that their recommendations not be made public.

Kevin Scott alerted the media to firefighters’ complaints

During an interview today, Scott said he would respect that request.

However, he added that while many of the recommendations were positive, he was disappointed that no one would be held accountable for the way firefighters were treated.

“I really want accountability,” Scott says. “I mean on the fire grounds, everything is around accountability, everyone has to be accounted for, everyone has a job to do, so accountability is a huge thing on the fire grounds…and I think accountability should have been held here as well.”

Current firefighter Laura Thurston, who attended last night’s meeting, said in an e-mail she would also respect the request for confidentiality.

“I am pleased with the work Montana Consulting has done. They were certainly thorough and took our conversations seriously,” her e-mail says.

Thurston told Warktimes in April that female firefighters faced discrimination from certain members in the department.

“I will say, it’s unfortunate that speaking out publicly was the necessary step to have action taken but I am very glad I/we did,” her e-mail adds.

She writes that the consultants feel the town is committed to developing an action plan to implement their recommendations.

“Personally I would like to hear that commitment directly from the CAO and Chief which I am hopeful will come after council has had time to also digest the presentation,” she adds.

“I feel we as firefighters deserve to be part of the conversation as well. I understand there is a lot of work still to be done and it will not happen overnight.”

To read the town’s statement, click here.

For previous coverage, click here and here.

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6 Responses to Sackville says details in consultant’s report on fire dept. woes will not be made public

  1. Kathy Best says:

    It is unfortunate that the results of this report will not be made public. If there are 20 recommendations that need to be dealt with…that’s 20 more reasons that someone should be held accountable for the implementation of them. I have my doubts that the CAO will deal with these recommendations…as he is part of the problem!

  2. Macx MacNichol says:

    The policy pertaining to a pubic Report paid for by the public not being available to the same public does not appear very transparent nor forthcoming.
    From past reading of reports, information can be released so long as no personal information is made public i.e. : Six persons feel that what happened to them was abuse because of unwanted attention, etc.. No personal information in that statement of information to the public.

    Someone should look up and report what happened when pity politicians, in other situations around the world wanted to control the media and information and restrict what the public know.

    We already have people in Canada who want to burn books to restrict them from being read, not much different in the polices just the methods of control.

  3. Macx MacNichol says:

    Yes this happened in Canada, information control

    News Canada
    Book burning at Ontario francophone schools as ‘gesture of reconciliation’ denounced
    More than 4,700 books were removed from library shelves at 30 schools, and they have since been destroyed or are in the process of being recycled

    Author of the article:Tyler Dawson
    Publishing date:Sep 07, 2021 • 3 days ago • 3 minute read • 513 Comments

  4. Les Hicks says:

    First the residents of Sackville were told that town council and members of the fire department would not be shown the complete consultant’s report and would instead be presented with a ’condensed’ version from the CAO. This process presented an obvious potential conflict of interest since the previous failure of the CAO to respond to the concerns raised by fire department members was one of the complaints that the consulting company was supposedly reviewing. Now we are told that because the report deals with ‘human resources’ the report will not be made public. How convenient is that for the senior town and fire department management? The question remains now whether members of town council and the fire department were presented the full report by Montana Consulting or whether what the consulting company presented was edited by the CAO and/or Fire Department Chief – the statement presented by the town does not make this clear. The other question is why the consulting company requested that town council and fire department members not make the results of the report public. Was this at the request of the senior town and fire department management? The lack of transparency and accountability of the town management (whose salaries are paid for by Sackville taxpayers) is very disturbing, to say the least.

    For those concerned citizens who might have considered requesting access to the complete report through the New Brunswick Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, it appears from reading through the act that there are so many exceptions to the right of information in the act that it should instead be entitled ‘the right of the provincial and municipal governments to refuse to be transparent and accountable’.

    • Sharon Hicks says:

      Very astute assessment of the provincial guidelines for what qualifies for inclusion in an in-camera meeting.

      Not only is there such a vast array of possibilities which qualify for ‘secrecy’, but the definitions are so vague that they require ‘interpretation’.

      Human nature being what it is, those making the decisions of what to include will therefore ‘interpret’ into the list whatever they think they can get away with, all the while defending their actions by saying they’re “just following provincial guidelines”.

      We need more clarity from the top down.

  5. Barb Smith says:

    We sure do need more clarity from the top as neither the fire chief or the C.A.O should be doing this themselves. They are the ones who have not dealt with said problem for the last four or five years so what is going to change now.. Maybe we should have some of the town councilors and a few from the fire department to deal with this.

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