White Rock officials differ on city-staff protection

A call by Coun. Helen Fathers to consider creating a
A call by Coun. Helen Fathers to consider creating a 'whistle-blower' policy for the City of White Rock went unanswered Monday, with Coun. Larry Robinson the sole councillor to offer some explanation for not supporting the discussion.
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The City of White Rock needs a way to protect its employees who fear lodging a complaint or disclosing information in good faith could lead to retaliation or penalty.

So says Coun. Helen Fathers. But her suggestion that council consider creating a “whistle-blower” policy didn’t get far when she brought it up at Monday’s governance and legislation committee meeting.

“Is nobody interested in discussing it?” she asked, after an explanation of why she brought it forward was met with silence.

Fathers had told the committee she believes it is “imperative” to have such a policy in place, and she hoped her peers support council referring it to staff.

While the matter wasn’t supported for discussion, Coun. Larry Robinson noted it isn’t council’s role to bring such policies forward: “I honestly feel we’re crossing a line into HR (human resources) here.”

If legislation is needed, it should be an initiative from within the administrative team, Robinson said, adding it would be “improper” for council to take the lead.

Fathers responded that her intent “is to protect staff.”

City manager Dan Bottrill told Peace Arch News Wednesday that policy introductions can come from staff or council.

While a “whistle-blower” or serious-complaints policy is not currently in the works, Bottrill said the city does have a code of conduct that addresses some of the issues.

“There is already kind of a process. A separate policy just provides some additional processes in terms of how that occurs,” he said.

“Whether or not we need one is something I can take a look at.”

A review of all city policies is already underway, Bottrill added.


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