Parse discussion

KEY SUMMARIES

City of Sault Ste. Marie

August 02, 201602 August 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Sault Ste. Marie to discuss a proposed plan to realign fire services and EMS. The meeting was closed under the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. During the closed session, the fire chief gave a presentation to council that covered the effect of the realignment on the local union, as well as a number of other repercussions. The Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion about the local firefighters’ union fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. The Ombudsman found that other topics covered in the presentation, such as risk management, effect on service levels, and financial savings generally do not fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. However, the Ombudsman found that those topics were not discrete and were included to inform council’s discussion about labour relations and were not required to be parsed from the discussion. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception.

Township of McKellar

December 04, 201504 December 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Economic Development Committee for the Township of McKellar to discuss comments about the committee made by two councillors and two members of the public. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The committee’s discussion focused on the conduct and comments of the councillors, the two members of the public, and ways the committee could respond to that conduct.

The Ombudsman found that the discussion about the conduct of the two members of the public fit within the personal matters exception. Normally, the discussion about the conduct of the two councillors would not fit within the exception, as it related to the individuals’ conduct in their official roles as councillors. However, the Ombudsman found that it is unrealistic to expect the committee to have parsed the discussion about the members of the public from that of the councillors when the two discussion topics were directly related.

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Town of Pelham

April 19, 201819 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham to discuss an external consultant’s report to council regarding municipal financial information and the conduct and performance of a previous employee. While in closed session the treasurer presented information to council about the municipality’s financial status. In most cases, this type of information would not fit within any of the exceptions to the open meeting rules and should be discussed in open session. However, in this case the Ombudsman found that the information provided by the treasurer was sufficiently necessary to fully explore the issues covered by the legal advice and therefore, appropriately discussed in closed session under the solicitor-client privilege exception.

City of Elliot Lake

August 09, 201709 August 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss a motion to rescind a previous resolution regarding the recruitment of a chief administrative officer (CAO). The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the closed session council discussed several individuals in the context of their employment, however, the discussion also included information about these employees that went beyond their professional roles. During the discussion council also discussed the desired qualities of a CAO. The Ombudsman found that while normally, general discussion of the qualities of a CAO would not fall within the personal matters exception, in this case it would not be reasonable for council to parse its discussion. Therefore, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Timmins

April 21, 201721 April 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins to discuss a proposed land transaction with a local post-secondary institution. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. During the meeting, a representative from the post-secondary institution was present and provided information to council about the proposed land transaction.

The Ombudsman noted that if the other party to the transaction is present during the in camera discussion, the protection offered by the exception is eliminated. The Ombudsman also found that the portion of the closed meeting during which the representative was present could have been parsed from the remainder of the discussion. Therefore, the Ombudsman found that the discussion did not fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Township of Laird

January 24, 201724 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Laird Fairgrounds Management Board to discuss an incident at a horse arena that involved township employees, members of the board, and members of the public. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The board’s discussion identified individuals by name and referred to allegations about conduct outside the scope of the individuals’ official roles. The Ombudsman found that the board referenced information in camera that had been discussed during the open portion of the meeting, but this was incidental to the main discussion, which focused on personal information.

Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

September 08, 201608 September 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands to discuss the assignment of the Chief Administrative Officer’s (CAO) duties. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The discussion focused on the specific skills and work experience of identified employees who were being considered for the interim CAO role. There was a brief mention of the CAO hiring process which was incidental to the main discussion. The Ombudsman found that the meeting fit within the personal matters exception because council discussed the qualification of identifiable individuals. The Ombudsman found that general consideration of the CAO hiring process would not have fit within this exception, however any such discussions were brief and incidental to the main discussion.

City of Sault Ste. Marie

August 02, 201602 August 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Sault Ste. Marie to discuss a proposed plan to realign fire services and EMS. The meeting was closed under the labour relations and employee negotiations exception. During the closed session, the fire chief gave a presentation to council that covered the effects of the realignment on the local union, and a number of other repercussions. The Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion about the local firefighters’ union fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. The Ombudsman found that other topics covered in the presentation, such as risk management, effects on service levels, and financial savings generally do not fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. However, the Ombudsman found that those topics were not discrete and were included to inform council’s discussion about labour relations, and were not required to be parsed from the discussion. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception.

City of Sault Ste. Marie

August 02, 201602 August 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Sault Ste. Marie to discuss a proposed plan to realign fire services and EMS. The meeting was closed under the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. During the closed session, the fire chief gave a presentation to council that covered the effect of the realignment on the local union, as well as a number of other repercussions. The Ombudsman found that the portion of council’s discussion about the local firefighters’ union fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. The Ombudsman found that other topics covered in the presentation, such as risk management, effect on service levels, and financial savings generally do not fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception. However, the Ombudsman found that those topics were not discrete and were included to inform council’s discussion about labour relations and were not required to be parsed from the discussion. Therefore, council’s discussion fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception.

Municipality of St.-Charles

February 04, 201604 February 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of St.-Charles to discuss audit reports and individual staff performance. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that the audit reports contained municipal financial information and its findings did not reveal personal information about staff members. The fact that the municipality has a small staff and personal information about individual employees could be inferred from the auditor’s findings does not bring the discussion within the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about individual employee conduct and performance did fit within the personal matters exception because staff members were identified by name. The Ombudsman found that council could have been parsed and the audit report could have been considered in open session, separate from the employee performance matters, because the two topics were distinct.

Township of McKellar

December 04, 201504 December 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Economic Development Committee for the Township of McKellar to discuss comments about the committee made by two councillors and two members of the public. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The committee’s discussion focused on the conduct and comments of the councillors, the two members of the public, and ways the committee could respond to that conduct.

The Ombudsman found that the discussion about the conduct of the two members of the public fit within the personal matters exception. Normally, the discussion about the conduct of the two councillors would not fit within the exception, as it related to the individuals’ conduct in their official roles as councillors. However, the Ombudsman found that it is unrealistic to expect the committee to have parsed the discussion about the members of the public from that of the councillors when the two discussion topics were directly related.

Town of Amherstburg

November 20, 201520 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss an external investigator’s report into health and safety concerns raised by municipal employees. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. Council discussed the conduct of a staff member and discussed how to address the issues raised in the report. During the discussion, the external investigator provided general information about health and safety requirements, but this advice was interspersed with comments about specific individual employees. The Ombudsman found that it was unrealistic to expect council to parse this portion of the discussion to exclude references to related or background information. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Elliot Lake

November 09, 201509 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss the mayor’s conduct and the roles and responsibilities of the mayor. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that a discussion of a committee or council member may qualify as personal where it involves the evaluation of a person’s conduct or performance. The Ombudsman found that although parts of council’s discussion qualified as personal information, council’s discussion about the mayor’s official conduct was not covered by the personal matters exception. However, the Ombudsman found that parsing the closed meeting discussion would not be realistic, given the connection between the parts of the discussion that did not fall within the exception and those that did.

Town of Fort Erie

August 18, 201418 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie to discuss a proposal for the municipality to purchase vacant industrial land. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. Council also discussed a grant for a local racetrack to continue to operate. The grant and the proposed purchase of the vacant industrial land were related as the land deal could not proceed if the racetrack was not operational. Representatives from the racetrack were present during the closed session to address questions from council. The grant is not a matter that would normally fit within the cited exception. However, the Ombudsman found that the discussion about the proposed acquisition of land was directly related to the grant for the racetrack and it would not have been feasible to parse the discussion. Therefore the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.

Town of Amherstburg

October 07, 201307 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss an organizational review of the municipality’s staff. The meeting was closed under the labour relations and employee negotiations exception. During the closed session meeting, a consultant presented a report to council on the roles and responsibilities of staff members and information on how the findings would affect both unionized and non-unionized staff. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the cited exception. General discussions regarding a municipal organization chart and various staff positions would not fit within the labour relations and employee negotiations exception. However, the Ombudsman found in this case that the information was for background and context for the labour relations discussions.

Municipality of Morris-Turnberry

September 10, 201210 September 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Morris-Turnberry to discuss a confidential report about fire services. The meeting was closed under the acquisition or disposition of land exception. The report included information about a potential land acquisition, including the proposed offer price for the land. The report also included information about an overall cost analysis and comparison of fire service options. The Ombudsman found that normally that type of information would not fit within the exception, however the information was presented as background to inform council’s decision on the land acquisition. Therefore, the discussion fit within the acquisition or disposition of land exception.