Winnipeg caretakers fired for keeping suites warm

Two Winnipeg caretakers say they were fired for trying to keep their tenants warm.
Two Winnipeg apartment caretakers claim they were fired for refusing to turn the heat down in the building at night. 2:00

Two Winnipeg caretakers say they were fired for trying to keep their tenants warm.

Penny Letourneau and Mike Dent said they were terminated on Monday because they refused to turn down the heat at a Preston Avenue apartment block.

Letourneau and Dent said the company they worked for, World Wide Management, ordered them in October to turn the building's boiler off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cut down heating costs.

The pair initially agreed but they began keeping the boiler on again in early December, following numerous complaints from tenants. The Wolesley-area building has 15 units and is home to 21 tenants, including at least one mother and baby.

Letourneau said she and Dent were fired and told they were being evicted as a result of keeping the boiler on.

"He says, 'Hand over the keys — all the keys.' So I give him all the keys and I ask him, 'What’s this for?'" Letourneau said.

She said the response they got was: "Well, you don't do what you're told to do around here."

Officials with the Saskatchewan-based management company denied the pair's claims, saying Letourneau and Dent were fired for ongoing issues regarding snow clearing and language use.

When CBC News visited the building on Tuesday, a thermostat near the boiler read 13 C, well below the temperature mandated by city bylaws.

The City of Winnipeg's neighbourhood livability bylaw mandates that apartments must be kept at least 21 C from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and a minimum of 18 C throughout the night.