The mayor of Saint-Placide, Daniel Laviolette, fiercely opposed, on Wednesday, the possible supervision of the human resources of his municipality, a recommendation of the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) following a report by devastating investigation.
Mr. Laviolette “urges the Minister not to issue a ministerial order in this case,” the mayor’s office said in a late afternoon statement.
The CMQ recommended to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, to put the human resources of this village in the Laurentians under supervision. Decisions concerning the appointment, suspension without pay or dismissal of municipal officers or employees would thus come under the control of the CMQ.
Minister Laforest’s office had not yet announced its decision early Wednesday evening.
Mayor Laviolette “will not hesitate to act in the event of a takeover by the Commission municipale du Québec, because he is convinced that his administration has made responsible decisions,” warned his cabinet.
This report is “biased” and “suggests an obvious bias”, because it “only takes up the claims of opponents of the municipal administration”, retorted the mayor’s office.
“City council followed the proper process and held a unanimous vote to resolve a serious problem that was created by the previous city administration,” Laviolette said.
“The Municipality made several significant errors in relation to the reinstatement of a dismissed employee. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds have been spent without a solid foundation,” the CMQ wrote to the mayor of Saint-Placide on Tuesday.
“We consider this to be a misuse of public funds and a serious case of mismanagement,” the CMQ argued in support of the trusteeship.
“My wish is that the recommendation be heard by the Minister, and that she implement it,” commented Councilor Marie-Ève D’Amour in a telephone interview Wednesday noon.
The report of the CMQ’s Municipal Integrity Investigations and Prosecutions Department, released on Tuesday, sparked many comments on the Solidarité Saint-Placide Facebook page.
“The amounts, the rumors we were hearing, it’s all in the report!” “, exclaimed Sébastien Poirier, a resident of Saint-Placide reached on the phone in the morning. Mr. Poirier had asked questions at the last council meeting, without obtaining an answer satisfactory to him. “For the sake of the citizens, I couldn’t have asked for a better report. »
The employee dismissed by the previous city council in 2019 challenged her dismissal before the Administrative Labor Tribunal (TAT).
After the 2021 elections, where only two members of the previous board (including Ms. D’Amour) were re-elected, “a few members of the new board, including a person who is related to the employee and who had worked for many years with her , had given themselves the mandate to “settle” the file”, recounts the report of the Investigations Department.
Three resolutions were thus adopted in September 2022. One authorizes the reinstatement of the employee, the other two are of a financial nature. The first is to allocate half a million dollars “as a litigation installment to the [TAT]” and the second is to authorize a loan settlement of $800,000 over 10 years “for the payment of fees, legal and court judgment”.
The 2023 budget for this municipality of 1,800 inhabitants is $3.3 million.
“It is the citizens of the Municipality who will pay the bill for this guerrilla which, in the end, will only have made losers”, denounces the report, very critical of the three resolutions.
The loan by-law, which had not yet been approved by the Minister, was repealed at the last council meeting. “This file will be treated as abandoned by the municipality and will be closed” upon receipt of the documents, said the Ministry of Municipal Affairs by email.
The sum of $ 500,000 drawn from the surpluses of Saint-Placide, on the other hand, “was received by the employee on October 3, 2022”, reveals the report of the CMQ. “The decision to reinstate the employee was irregular and the process was marred by several major flaws and gross errors,” he concluded.
The Investigations Department does not comment “on the existence, or not, of psychological harassment”. However, she believes that “the Municipality has not put in place reasonable means so that the return of the employee does not compromise the right of municipal employees to work in a healthy environment”.
Three complaints of psychological harassment have been filed against the municipality of Saint-Placide since 2013, according to data from the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) obtained by La Presse. However, the CNESST did not specify what follow-up was given to these complaints.