Council asks administration to speed up development of Public Abuse Policy

Prince Albert City Hall (Herald File Photo)

Prince Albert city council has instructed administration to speed up development of a new Public Abuse Policy and Procedure that outlines what steps City employees can take if they experience inappropriate or harassing behavior.

Council was supposed to vote on the policy in June, but administration had proposed a new due date of Oct. 3. Dennis Ogrodnick, who brought forward the original motion asking for a draft policing, said the delay is unacceptable.

“It’s just insulting to think another four months should be given,” Ogrodnick said at the most recent executive committee meeting.

Council voted to develop a draft policy at a meeting in December 2021. Ogrodnick then raised the issue again in March.

“When I brought it up in March, it was supposed to be (ready by) June 1. We were supposed to have it for our June meeting,” he said.

In an Open Action items report, administration said the arrival of a new HR manager will speed up the development process.

Ogrodnick brought the policy forward after hearing complaints from city staff and his colleagues on council about the abuse they were receiving. At the time, Ogrodnick said the majority of residents were polite, but a vocal minority were consistently abusive.

At the December 2021 meeting, Ogrodnick told council one person had previously threatened to shoot him if he voted a certain way on a motion. He also told council he’d heard concerns about individuals receiving racist remarks.

The issue of verbal and physical abuse directed towards municipal employees is not a new one in Canada. In March, the City of Mississauga reported eight incidents of harassment towards snow plow drivers following a storm. The incident led several snow plow operators to quit in protest.

Verbal and physical abuse is also impacting the private sector. In October 2022, a walk-in-clinic in Warman temporarily closed due to a physician shortage and verbal abuse. Legends Medical Clinic in Warman halted operations for two weeks, according to a post on the clinic’s Facebook page.

The clinic’s owner told the CBC staff members were receiving verbal abuse and aggressive actions from some patients who were unhappy with the extensive wait times caused by a lack of staff.