Clarity in employment relationships

There’s a lot of confusion around a couple of staff reporting relationships at Niagara Region. I have an easy solution.

Background:

On Thursday, August 16, 2018, there was a Special Meeting of Council for the following purpose:

The intention of the Special Meeting will be the following:

  1. Address the involvement of the Chair and Chair’s office in the hiring of the CAO.
  2. Address what information Carmen D’Angelo was provided by the staff of the Chair’s officeduring the hiring process for the CAO.
  3. Review contract of the CAO (including any decisions that have been made since to the hiring ofthe CAO).

Not for the first time during this term of Council, the subject of to whom Jason Tamming and Rob D’Amboise report came up in the discussion.

At various points, they have been claimed as either the Chair’s staff or the CAO’s staff.

What we know is that both were hired by the Chair for their original positions (both in the Chair’s office) and that there was not a publicized competition for their roles.

There is an easy way to clean up the reporting relationship and to hopefully also avoid more of what we’ve been seeing at Regional Council and with some staff in the future.

More background:

When I worked for the City of Welland, my role was Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Manager. They each had an administrative assistant to look after their schedules, draft correspondence, etc. As the Executive Assistant, I handled communications issues, special projects, writing reports, liaising with councillors and other levels of government, etc.

Here’s the thing, though…while my job title was Executive Assistant the Mayor and City Manager, the reporting structure within the corporation was that my role reported to the City Manager. As the lead bureaucrat in the corporation, both administrative assistants and the executive assistant formally reported to the City Manager. Elected representatives had no formal responsibility for staff (nor should they, in my opinion).

So, when I competed for the role, the mayor was in the interview (it’s important to ensure that everyone feels there is a good fit for people who will be working closely together), but my employment contract was signed by HR and the City Manager. I took direction from both mayors for whom I worked, but my hiring, performance reviews, vacation requests, etc. fell under the purview of the City Manager.

Solution:

If I earn the privilege to represent the people of St. Catharines at Niagara Regional Council, I will bring forward a motion that all staff who serve the Chair be hired through an open competition that is overseen by HR staff and that the reporting structure of those positions be clarified to indicate that they, ultimately, report to the CAO.
(Sidenote: before anyone says that all Chairs have sought out and appointed their own staff, I know that the individual who served as EA to Peter Partington had to compete for his position, and I know this because I applied for that position as well.)

We should not have elected officials be responsible for Human Resources matters, as it puts the corporation at risk if/when those elected officials bend or break generally accepted Human Resources rules.

It’s beyond time to Reset the Region.

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