Nanaimo council has issued a letter of regret to their chief administrative officer Tracy Samra and pledged to follow a consultant’s recommendations toward fostering a respectful workplace.
Relations among some of the city’s councillors, the mayor and Samra have become so frayed it sparked a citizen’s petition urging council to address the issue of violence against Indigenous women in the workplace — Samra is Indigenous — and, last week, Snuneymuxw First Nation members reclaimed their flag from Nanaimo City Hall.
But at Monday’s council meeting Coun. Bill Yoachim read a letter outlining a resolution passed at a Sept. 11 in-camera meeting in which council wanted to assure Samra:
• Council expresses regret for the deterioration in relationships and commits to working diligently to support you in your return to work and to take steps to foster a positive work environment.
• Council accepts the seven findings of the report prepared by consultant Roslyn Goldner, a Vancouver labour lawyer; accepts the report’s recommendations and will continue to work toward implementing the recommendations.
• Council will adhere to the procedures to govern the interactions between staff and council which have been developed by the human resources department with the assistance of the consultant, and council will comply with expectations for behaviour among one another while in staff’s presence.
The Goldner report has not been publicly released but in August the Globe and Mail reported it had obtained a copy.
The report found the conduct of council members toward each other to be “rude, disrespectful [and] at times intimidating” and that the conduct created a “hostile work environment” for a city manager and staff, even if staff were not the direct targets of the rude behaviour, according to the the Globe and Mail.
The report stopped short of finding that bullying and harassment had occurred, saying the behaviour that resulted in those allegations by a complainant “is more aptly characterized as uncivil workplace conduct.”
At Monday’s council meeting Samra, back to work after a leave, thanked council for reviewing the findings of Goldner.
“I have been consistent in my request to council that you deliberate on it and I’m very happy to hear that you’ve accepted the findings of fact and have started a pathway toward addressing some of the findings — in particular the work environment for me and my staff,” Samra said.
She said she found the protocol that governs how staff and council interact in all forums, not just the council chamber, to be “encouraging.” Samra noted the report is recommends “remediation, education and training for the respondents” which she would like to see get underway as soon as possible.
“I think this community has seen enough turmoil to last many, many lifetimes,” she said, adding the fighting and the turmoil and denials need to stop.
“We’ve got a year and a couple of months left and I want to serve council as your city manager. And in order to be able to do that to the fullest of my capacity, I need to be having a respectful workplace and being treated by each and every one of you in that manner.”