Sackville Councillor Bruce Phinney got a nasty surprise on Sunday when he visited a local pharmacy to get three emergency prescriptions filled and the clerk told him it looked like his medical insurance card had been cancelled.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he says. “This was a complete and utter surprise.”
Phinney paid $72.85 out of his own pocket for prescription pain killers, antibiotics and medication to help him pass the kidney stone that had kept him up the previous night before he drove to the Amherst hospital where he received an X-ray and CT scan along with the prescriptions.
When he phoned Sackville Treasurer Michael Beal to ask about his town-issued medical card, Beal told him council had suspended it for two months along with his pay for breaching the municipal code of conduct.
“I thought it was only my pay that I was going to be deducted,” Phinney says.
“All of a sudden finding out that I’m no longer covered under the medical plan that was given to me as part of the benefits of being an elected councillor…It shocked me when I found that out.”
During its meeting on July 12, while Phinney was visiting family in Alberta, councillors voted to suspend Phinney’s pay for two months, but there was no mention then of any suspension of benefits.
The motion read by Councillor Michael Tower said the sanctions against Phinney included “Suspension of the remuneration paid to Councillor Phinney for a period of two months.”
However, the official minutes of the meeting now read: “Suspension of the remuneration and benefits paid to Councillor Phinney for a period of two months.” [Emphasis added]
Phinney says he has received nothing in writing from the town about the sanctions that were imposed after he publicly questioned town hiring practices and said Mt. A. students who are not from the town shouldn’t be allowed to vote here during municipal elections.
For previous coverage of the sanctions and more details about what Phinney said, click here.
Support for Phinney
Phinney supporter Wendy Alder organized a GoFundMe campaign that raised $1,461 to replace his lost pay when she learned about the sanctions against him.
In an e-mail to Warktimes today, she expressed surprise.
“Wow! There’s nothing in what I recall from the meetings that referenced benefits being cancelled,” she wrote.
Alder added she can’t believe that Phinney was sanctioned for what he said.
“The whole thing is unfair IMO, it’s bullying at its best.”