City of Winnipeg suspends building inspectors over suspected slacking caught on tape
More staff under review as probe continues into allegations brought forward in mysterious group's surveillance
Several City of Winnipeg building inspectors are no longer on the job, as the city continues its investigation into allegations that some of its employees were slacking off while on the clock.
The move comes after a review of tens of thousands of documents and work logs — including private surveillance video claiming to show property inspectors shopping during clocked hours — suggesting public servants were conducting inappropriate business while at work.
Speaking to Executive Policy Committee Tuesday, the city's director of human resources said three city building inspectors are no longer employed, three more are suspended without pay indefinitely, and six others remain under the microscope.
"We expect that that number will increase," Angie Cusson said in a press conference after the meeting.
Cusson said two of the inspectors who left quit, while the third retired. Three other have been "sent home," she said, adding "they will be out of the workplace pending the outcome."
Mayor Brian Bowman said the city is taking the investigation into the planning and development department very seriously.
"Those allegations were pretty serious, and so we want to make sure that people are being held accountable."
The city has reviewed 80,000 documents and 1,500 daily work inspection sheets, done upwards of 100 interviews and looked through driving logs, video and other materials provided by the secret group that first came forward with the allegations.
The investigation started after that group provided the private video to officials.
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The evidence, obtained by CBC News, suggests some inspectors with the City of Winnipeg's planning, property and development department were taking long breaks and attending to personal matters.
The city's initial review of the evidence implied some civil inspectors had lied about their behaviours.
"The video material, and the materials also provided, demonstrated there were inconsistencies in what we had heard," Cusson said.
The city is still investigating allegations its workers conducted personal business during work hours.
More staff are likely to suffer consequences, Cusson added, which could range from prescribed training to termination.
Staff are already required to fill out daily logs tracking their hours, where they go, appointments and break times.
Officials indicated their investigation has put a damper on inspections for both residential and commercial development.
"The loss of some staff members will have an impact on our service, however recruitment is currently underway to fill the positions and we have also adjusted workloads to accommodate the current inspection load. The biggest change that will impact the industry will be the requirement for pre-scheduling commercial permit inspections," a city spokesperson said in an email statement.
Suspended staff will not be permitted to return to work until the final report, Cusson said.
A formal decision is expected to be made on the outcomes and the report delivered to council on July 19 — the day after council recesses for summer.
Bowman demanded that finalized report be made public as soon as possible, but he could not promise when.
"I'll do what I can ... to make sure that that happens."