Response to one-sided Global News story

The following is a statement from Mayor Nina Bifolchi:

“On Tuesday, April 21, Global News published a story with the headline: ‘Morale seems quite low’: Wasaga Beach staff working on site amid coronavirus pandemic

To create a headline insinuating low-staff morale, based on one staff member’s opinion, without knowledge of this person’s work ethics and performance status in the organization, is poor journalism in my opinion.

It is also unfortunate that Global did not care to explore the wide-variety of municipal sector employment strategies that exist in Ontario during the pandemic, but instead executed a smear job on Wasaga Beach.

It is truly disgraceful that a town staff member would step outside the organization and speak to the media instead of their supervisor or our human resources staff.

Throughout this pandemic, we have been open and transparent about staff working on site and the steps taken to ensure staff safety.

As an essential service, we have followed best practices and direction from the health experts and we will continue to do so.

Allowing staff to work from home places a greater level of vulnerability on the town’s computer network. It exposes us to additional cyberattacks like the costly one we experienced in 2018. It puts the personal information of those we serve in jeopardy.

The actions of this staff member – going rogue and speaking anonymously to the media – speaks volumes to their character. Having such little respect for the organization they work for and the taxpayers who pay their wage is truly disappointing.

I know that some people are afraid. And it is OK to be afraid. These are certainly scary times. That is why we have provided staff with opportunities to leave the organization during the pandemic and return when the crisis is over.

The vast majority of our staff supports our approach.

Throughout the pandemic, we have encouraged staff with concerns to speak with their manager, human resources, or a counselor through our employee assistance program.

We would never attack or dismiss a member of our municipal family for feeling unsafe during this time, nor would we punish them down the road. That is simply not how we operate at the Town of Wasaga Beach.

I speak with our staff on a daily basis and I can tell you I am not hearing anything about low morale.

Throughout this pandemic, I have seen some shining stars and true leaders within our organization. I am so appreciative of their efforts during this difficult time.

Many other essential employees throughout our province continue to show up for work and I commend them as well.

I am grateful to our staff who continue to show up for work. The majority of our staff know they are lucky to have municipal jobs. Working for the town provides a level of security that not all jobs do.

Government employment at any level is great to have in this country. But when the going gets tough, our staff have a responsibility to step up and ensure that services continue.

Thousands of other frontline staff – making far less than civil servants – continue to show up for work each day and frankly they are putting themselves at far greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. They are our grocery store workers, truck drivers, and food service staff, to name but a few sectors.

Hundreds more people in our community, and thousands across our province find themselves suddenly without any work at all and my heart goes out to them.

Some employees might feel entitled to work at home and earn 100 percent of their wage, but there is no way they can perform at the same capacity as when at work.

It is simply unfair to let some employees receive full compensation for working at the kitchen table while others, such as Public Works staff, firefighters, administrative staff, parks workers, or our leadership team, report for work.

In addition, allowing employees to work at home when they cannot realize full performance, and in turn compensate them 100 percent, is unfair to taxpayers who pay the wages of our staff.

The vast majority of town staff are happy to be working and I truly appreciate all that our staff are doing to ensure that Wasaga Beach comes out even stronger than we were before COVID-19 hit.”