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Just how much does the City of Vancouver have to hide? That’s what Paul Faoro, president of CUPE Local 15 representing workers in the City of Vancouver, is wondering.

On September 8, Faoro flagged “extremely questionable actions” with respect to city treatment of employees. Faoro wrote to city manager Judy Rogers requesting an immediate investigation of allegations that city staff who are visible minorities were asked to be more “visible” during a visit by the federal Minister of Labour.

The actions occurred when Minister of Labour Jean-Pierre Blackburn was in Vancouver to meet with mayor Sam Sullivan and the Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration. As part of the visit, the Minister also toured several city departments.

The city’s news release about the Labour Minister’s visit said it was honoured to “demonstrate the City of Vancouver’s commitment to providing an inclusive workplace.”

Faoro’s letter, which was copied to Vancouver mayor and council, quickly became the subject of a flurry of news stories right across the country, including CBC’s flagship show, As It Happens.

Despite the scrutiny the city has been under, Faoro says that there appears to be little willingness to take responsibility or to put in place measures to protect employees who face this kind of situation.

Not only are we going to continue to probe into what happened here, using freedom of information requests and other measures, we are also going to step up our campaign to get whistleblower protection for city employees,” says Faoro.

CUPE 15 has been advocating for whistleblower protection for some time.

While no grievances or human rights complaints have been filed to date, Faoro says that CUPE 15 staff and stewards are working with members to ensure all rights are protected.