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Norfolk County

October 29, 201929 October 2019

The Ombudsman determined that council for Norfolk County did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 when it went in camera on March 26 and April 2, to discuss the hiring of an interim Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The meetings relied partly on the exceptions for personal matters about an identifiable individual. The Ombudsman found that the exception for personal matters of an identifiable individual. This exception generally does not apply to information that pertains to an individual in their professional capacity, however, it does apply if such information reveals something personal or relates to scrutiny of an individual’s conduct. Accordingly, the Ombudsman found that the discussions about the hiring of a candidate for the interim CAO position, and the performance of identifiable staff members fit within the exception for personal matters for an identifiable individual.

Municipality of West Nipissing

October 03, 201903 October 2019

The Ombudsman reviewed an in camera session of a meeting of council for the Municipality of West Nipissing during which council was to discuss the relationship between staff and council. The discussion instead involved shouting, pointing and arguments between council members. The Ombudsman found discussions about relationships between staff and council, even if they had taken place, would not have fit within the personal matters exception. Information pertaining to the professional capacity of an individual is not personal in nature even if discussions of relationships involve sensitive information the municipality would prefer to not discuss publicly.

Municipality of West Nipissing

October 03, 201903 October 2019

The Ombudsman reviewed an in camera session of a meeting of council for the Municipality of West Nipissing during which council was to discuss the relationship between staff and council. The discussion instead involved shouting, pointing and arguments between council members. The Ombudsman found an overall “clearing the air” tone of a meeting, the involvement of shouting, pointing and accusations, and the fact that council did not want to discuss the information publicly, was not sufficient to close the discussion under the personal matters exception.

Municipality of West Nipissing

October 03, 201903 October 2019

The Ombudsman reviewed an in camera session of a meeting of council for the Municipality of West Nipissing, in which council intended to discuss the relationship between staff and council. The discussion, although intended to educate and train council members on their roles and responsibilities, did not actually involve any education or training. The discussion instead involved opinions regarding council’s divisions, members’ behaviour and interpersonal disputes. This discussion did not fit within the narrowly construed exception for education and training.

Township of Wollaston

May 24, 201924 May 2019

When council for Wollaston Township discussed in camera the job performance of an individual employee, it fit within the exception for personal matters, as well as the exception for labour relations or employee negotiations. The same was true of council’s discussion about the past job performance of a prospective consultant.

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 relying on the personal matters exception to discuss payment of remuneration for volunteer firefighters. During the closed session, council identified specific firefighters by name and discussed whether they had satisfied their employment conditions. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

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 Tehkummah

April 18, 201818 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting of council for the Township of Tehkummah, relying on the personal matters exception to discuss an ongoing third-party workplace investigation relating to an employee. Council’s discussion centered on the employment status of an identifiable staff member. While not cited by the township, the Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the labor relations exception.

Township of Tehkummah

April 18, 201818 April 2018

The Ombudsman reviewed a meeting of council for the Township of Tehkummah, relying on the personal matters exception to discuss an ongoing third-party workplace investigation relating to an employee. During the discussion, council deliberated about whether the best course of action would be to suspend the staff member pending the completion of the workplace investigation. The Ombudsman found that a discussion to change employment status or job performance of an individual staff member constitutes personal information. Accordingly, the discussion fit within the personal matters exceptions.

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.

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.

Town of Georgina

November 23, 201723 November 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Georgina to discuss an organizational review of certain departments within the municipality’s administration as part of a larger service delivery review. The meeting was closed using the personal matters exception. While in camera, council discussed the performance of particular employees in relation to the restructuring options contained in a staff report. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception.

Norfolk County

May 10, 201610 May 2016

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council-in-committee for the County of Norfolk to discuss the extension of legal services contracts. The meeting was closed using the personal matters exception. The discussion included scrutiny of the performance, responsiveness and expertise of individual lawyers. However, the majority of the discussion related to the fee structure proposed by each firm. The Ombudsman found that the portion of the committee’s discussion that related to personal information about the lawyers fit within the personal matters 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 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.

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 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.

Township of Russell

November 02, 201502 November 2015

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Russell to discuss a staff member who was a candidate for the position of deputy clerk. The meeting relied on the personal matters exception. When council resumed the open session, it appointed the individual to the position of deputy clerk. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the personal matters exception since it identified the candidate by name and covered the individual’s employment history, job performance, and salary information.

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.

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.

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.  Council’s discussion included specific information about the performance of identified staff members and the retirement of two staff members. While not relied upon by the municipality, the Ombudsman found that council’s discussion about the performance of identified employees fit within the labour relations or employee negotiations exception.

City of Welland

November 18, 201418 November 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the City of Welland that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the fact that a municipal staff member had written a cheque without council approval. The municipality’s solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice regarding how councillors should respond to public concerns about the matter.  The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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.

Township of Joly

August 21, 201421 August 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Joly that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss the performance of a specific municipal staff member. The municipality’s solicitor participated in the meeting via telephone to provide advice with respect to the employment matter. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

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.

Township of Bonfield

October 30, 201330 October 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Personnel Committee for the Township of Bonfield that relied on the labour relations or employee negotiations exception to discuss specific municipal employees, their jobs and pay status. The Ombudsman found that the committee’s discussion fit within the cited 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.