TORONTO, Ont. – In one of her final acts as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Linda Jeffrey sent a letter to the Mayor of Bonfield stating that the “allegations being made by both CUPE and the ratepayers are serious,” and asked that a timeline for responses to her concerns be submitted within two weeks.
In the letter, dated March 25th, the Minister expressed concerns over the Council’s apparent failure to comply with the Municipal Act and was worried about the municipal services the mayor and council members provided during the labour dispute.
The Minister’s intervention came a month after she met with CUPE representatives, where she expressed deep concern over the list of alleged compliance failures and other issues raised during a meeting that ran for more than an hour.
Her intervention was also prompted by a petition signed by 69 Bonfield ratepayers who asked that a Provincial-Municipal Audit of the Township be undertaken, an obligation mandated by the Municipal Affairs Act whenever a petition with 50 or more names is brought forward.
In her request for clarification to the council, the minister outlined 11 specific issues they needed to report back on. Among these were confirmation of any new debt taken on since August 1, 2013, and assurances that payments to schools boards and the social services board were up to date.
She requested explanations surrounding the lack of audited financial statements, budget preparations and procurement policies. She also asked for confirmation on whether the Township was meeting its duties and expectations for emergency preparedness, building permits and cemetery burials as required by the various provincial acts governing these areas.
In a nod to Bonfield’s past reputation as a well-run municipality, the Minister stated that the township had consistently met its financial requirements and deadlines prior to the labour dispute. “I note that up until August 1, 2013, Bonfield was managing responsibly.”
“Notwithstanding this,” the Minister added, “the allegations being made by both CUPE and the ratepayers are serious. It is important to look further into these issues and to seek greater clarity.”
To Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario President, the Minister’s intervention shows that the Township is hurting and needs help.
“The mayor and councillors have tried to run the affairs of the Township on their own, but failed. There is a looming crisis coming because of their refusal to settle the labour dispute and get people back to work. Now they must answer for their actions and be held accountable,” said Hahn.
Please see the full letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, attached.
For more information, please contact:
Steve Boyle, CUPE National Representative, 705-662-5975
Mario Emond, Communications Representative, 613-237-9475