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Town of Amherstburg

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg relying on the personal matters exception to discuss the conduct of various identifiable individuals. The discussion included allegations that these individuals acted improperly. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of The North Shore

June 29, 201829 June 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of The North Shore to discuss a communication protocol between municipal staff and the fire department. During the discussion, council considered the appointment of an individual firefighter as communications officer without council approval. The Ombudsman found that the information related to the employment duties of a firefighter and the reporting relationship amongst municipal staff. Accordingly, although not cited by the municipality, the discussion fit within labour relations exception.

Town of Petrolia

May 22, 201822 May 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed closed meetings held by council for the Town of Petrolia. The Ombudsman found that the municipality was permitted to discuss unproven allegations regarding the conduct of a member of council in camera pursuant to the exception for personal matters about an identifiable individual.

Town of Pelham

April 19, 201819 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Pelham that relied on the labour relations or employee negotiations exception to discuss the conduct and performance of an individual. The Ombudsman found that the discussion involved an individual’s conduct and performance in the context of employment with the town, therefore, the discussion fit within the labour relations exception.

Township of North Huron

January 09, 201809 January 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of North Huron to discuss fire department personnel issues. While in closed session, council discussed a legal opinion related to the fire department personnel. After council discussed this legal advice, approximately 40 firefighters entered the closed session and, through two representatives, spoke with council about various shared concerns. These concerns included comments about identified individuals and the department’s work conditions. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception because the conduct discussed went beyond the employees’ professional role.

Township of Lanark Highlands

January 04, 201804 January 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Lanark Highlands to discuss involvement of a council member in the financial administration of the township. The meeting was closed using the personal matters exception. The Ombudsman found that generally, discussions of a council member’s actions in the course of their duties are considered to be of a professional nature. However, the in camera discussion about the council member touched upon information that was speculative and also involved scrutiny of the councillor’s conduct that went beyond their official capacity as a member of council. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Cornwall

December 05, 201705 December 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Cornwall that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss the Cornwall Regional Airport. During the discussion, council reviewed the performance and conduct of commission members and another individual. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion went beyond the individuals’ professional roles, and if that information were to be disclosed, it would reveal something of a personal nature about the individuals. Accordingly, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Municipality of St.-Charles

June 30, 201730 June 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the General Government Committee for the Municipality of St.-Charles to discuss allegations of credit card abuse by municipal employees. The meeting was closed citing the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the committee discussed several individuals in the context of their employment or professional relationship to the municipality. However, the discussion also included details of the conduct of individuals that went beyond their professional roles, which if disclosed would reveal something of a personal nature about them. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception. During the investigation, it was alleged that the credit card abuse allegations should not be discussed in private because information about the allegations had previously been made public at a council meeting. The Ombudsman noted that the majority of the closed meeting exceptions are discretionary and in the interest of openness and transparency, municipalities should carefully consider whether the public might be better served by discussing the matter openly. However, in this case, the committee discussed information that had not been previously discussed in public and is not the type of information that would typically be debated in open session.

Municipality of St.-Charles

June 30, 201730 June 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the General Government Committee for the Municipality of St.-Charles that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss allegations regarding employee municipal credit card abuse. During the meeting, the municipality reviewed written legal advice. The discussion included information about ongoing legal proceedings against the municipality and how the municipality’s response to the credit card abuse allegations could affect those proceedings. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Town of Fort Erie (Ridgeway BIA)

April 03, 201703 April 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Board of Management for the Ridgeway Business Improvement Area in the Town of Fort Erie. The board met in camera to discuss the conduct of an employee of the board. The board did not cite a closed meeting exception. The Ombudsman found that while the board did not rely on the personal matters exception, the discussion fit within that exception.

Town of Fort Erie (Ridgeway BIA)

April 03, 201703 April 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Board of Management for the Ridgeway Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the Town of Fort Erie, which met in camera to discuss the conduct of an employee of the BIA. The board did not cite a closed meeting exception. The discussion was about an individual employee in the context of their employment relationship to the BIA and included the employee’s job performance. The Ombudsman found that while the board did not rely on the labour relations exception, the discussion fit within that exception.

Municipality of Temagami

February 09, 201709 February 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Temagami to discuss an allegation that the mayor had contravened the municipality’s code of conduct. The meeting was closed under the personal matters exception. During the discussion, council considered whether enough information had been received to proceed with a code of conduct complaint against the mayor. The Ombudsman found that it was not clear whether the mayor was acting in a professional or personal capacity during the incident that gave rise to the code of conduct complaint, and council was considering an unproven allegation against the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of Laird

January 24, 201724 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Laird Fairgrounds Management Board for the Township of Laird 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 discussion fit within the personal matters exception since it related to personal information about identifiable individuals.

City of Greater Sudbury

January 20, 201720 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed three closed meetings held by council for the City of Greater Sudbury to discuss an investigation regarding a contract between the city and a transit ticket kiosk. The closed meetings relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, council received a third party investigation report which included information about employee conduct. The Ombudsman found that council’s scrutiny of employee conduct was personal in nature. Therefore, the discussions fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Greater Sudbury

January 20, 201720 January 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed two closed meetings held by council for the City of Greater Sudbury that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss transit tickets in the municipality. During the discussion, council received a third-party investigation report that included information about employee negligence and conduct. Council also received written legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor about the report. The Ombudsman found that the discussions fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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.

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 a draft financial report from its auditors, relying on the labour relations and employee negotiations exception. The auditors gave a presentation to council that included information about the performance of various departments. Council also discussed the job performance of particular employees and options council could pursue to address those issues. The Ombudsman found that the auditor’s presentation did not fit within the exception for labour relations or employee negotiations as it pertained to general information about how various departments had performed, rather than relations or negotiations with staff. The Ombudsman found that the portion of the discussion about job performance of particular employees fit within the cited 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.

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 the appointment of a member of the public to the committee. The meeting was closed citing the personal matters exception. The committee discussed the conduct of the member of the public. The committee also discussed the implications, both negative and positive, of accepting the application. The Ombudsman found that by discussing the individual’s conduct, the committee revealed inherently personal information about the individual. 

Township of Bonfield

November 23, 201523 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Public Works Committee for the Township of Bonfield that relied on the labour relations or employee negotiations exception to discuss employee performance matters in the municipality. During the discussion, the committee raised the issue of the performance of two identified employees. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the cited exception.

Town of Amherstburg

November 20, 201520 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss health and safety concerns raised by municipal employees. The municipality retained a labour consultant to provide advice on the complaints. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception because council discussed the conditions of work for specific employees, as well as the general work environment for all employees in a specific department, and decided to terminate the employment of two employees.

Town of Amherstburg

November 20, 201520 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss details of complaints by named municipal staff against other staff members.  The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The complaints included allegations of harassment and health and safety concerns. The Ombudsman found that the information discussed went beyond the staff members’ professional duties and included personal concerns about their work environment. Therefore, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception. 

Town of Amherstburg

November 20, 201520 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss health and safety concerns raised by municipal employees. The municipality’s solicitor was present throughout the closed session and provided legal advice to council on the matters discussed. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

City of Elliot Lake

November 09, 201509 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake which relied on the personal matters exception to discuss committee members’ roles and behaviour. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussions about the volunteer committee members’ conduct were personal in nature and therefore 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 South Bruce Peninsula

October 06, 201506 October 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, which relied on the personal matters exception to discuss the performance and conduct of a staff member. Typically, the personal matters exception applies to discussions about an individual in his or her personal capacity, rather than his or her professional, business, or official capacity. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion related to the individual’s conduct and therefore fit within the personal matters exception.

Town of Amherstburg

April 13, 201513 April 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss bank-signing authorities for the municipality. The municipality suggested that the general tone of the meeting was one of distrust of municipal staff and, accordingly, it rendered the discussion personal in nature. The Ombudsman found that the general tone or concern that a discussion might be sensitive in nature is not sufficient to bring the discussion within the personal matters exception. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Niagara Falls

March 05, 201505 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Niagara Falls to discuss staff conduct related to a future university campus located in the downtown area of the municipality. The discussion also included questions about whether the mayor and certain staff members had complied with their professional obligations. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion did not include topics that were inherently personal in nature. Rather, questions about staff conduct were general in nature or about individuals in their professional capacities. Therefore, council’s discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of South Huron that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss a number of staffing issues. The discussion included issues of staff performance reviews, reorganization, staff conduct, discipline, and the salaries of specific employees. The Ombudsman found that these matters are considered personal information for the purposes of the Municipal Act, 2001 and therefore they fit within the personal matters exception.

Municipality of South Huron

March 02, 201502 March 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of South Huron to discuss a number of staffing issues, relying the labour relations exception. The discussion included staff performance reviews, staff conduct, discipline, and the salaries of specific employees. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception.

Town of Cochrane

January 12, 201512 January 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Cochrane, which relied on the personal matters exception to discuss a contract with a specific member of the public. In addition to professional information, council’s discussion included information about the individual’s credibility and conduct. Although the exception does not apply to professional or business information about an individual, information will be considered personal information where an individual’s conduct is scrutinized. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Town of Amherstburg

December 15, 201415 December 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg, which relied o the closed meeting exception to discuss the selection process for a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). Council discussed the qualifications of an identifiable candidate and expressed opinions about the individual. Council also discussed the conduct of a member of the public who had emailed council expressing opinions about a candidate for the CAO position. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Municipality of Whitestone

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Whitestone to discuss an organizational review. The closed meeting relied on the personal matters exception. Council’s discussion included specific information about the performance of identifiable individual employees and the retirement of two employees. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the personal matters exception because it related to the performance of identifiable individual employees.

City of Elliot Lake

September 08, 201408 September 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Elliot Lake to discuss unproven allegations against a member of council. The Ombudsman noted that information about an individual in their professional capacity takes on a more personal nature if it relates to scrutiny of that person’s conduct. In this case, council was considering unproven allegations against a council member that had not been investigated or made public at the time. This portion of the discussions fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan

August 18, 201418 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan to discuss a former employee. The closed meeting relied on the personal matters exception. Council members expressed personal opinions about the individual’s behaviour and discussed actions the municipality should take to address a particular issue. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Township of Adelaide Metcalfe

June 27, 201427 June 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Adelaide Metcalfe that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss comments a councillor made about employee performance. The discussion included concerns expressed by identified staff members about the effect of the councillor’s comments. The Ombudsman found that general discussion about tensions between council and staff would not be appropriate for closed session discussions, however, since council discussed personal information about identifiable individuals who were members of the public and specific staff members, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

City of Timmins

November 14, 201314 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Timmins to consider a complaint against a resident with respect to a zoning by-law infraction. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the closed meeting, council received delegations from the complainant and a resident. The Ombudsman found that council’s discussion fit within the personal matters exception because information was presented to council that involved an investigation or assessment of the performance or alleged improper conduct of the property owner. 

Town of Fort Erie

May 09, 201309 May 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Fort Erie that relied on the personal matters exception to discuss an alleged breach of the municipality’s code of conduct by the mayor. Council’s discussion related to public comments made by the mayor. The Ombudsman found that the mayor’s comments were made in the course of his official duties and in relation to municipal business. Council’s discussions did not pertain to the mayor in his personal capacity, but rather involved the mayor’s professional capacity. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception. 

City of Niagara Falls (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

City of St. Catharines (Niagara District Airport Commission)

February 14, 201314 February 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Niagara District Airport Commission to discuss comments about the commission made by a local mayor. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. During the discussion, the commission considered how to respond to the mayor’s official comments. The Ombudsman found that the discussion of the mayor’s professional relationship with the commission does not qualify as personal information. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the personal matters exception.

Municipality of Lambton Shores

January 28, 201328 January 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Lambton Shores to discuss the performance of an identifiable member of staff. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. The discussion included an examination of the employee’s job performance, as well as personal views and opinions expressed about this individual. The Ombudsman found that the information discussed qualified as personal information. Therefore, the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.