Manitoba·CITY HALL

Bowman wants inspectors fired if found slacking off on the job

Any city worker caught conducting inappropriate personal business during work hours should be fired, Winnipeg's mayor told reporters Tuesday.

City review continues into allegations building inspectors conducted personal business during work hours

Surveillance video claiming to show city inspections staff shopping during business hours was submitted to CBC Mantioba but has not been independently verified by CBC News. (Submitted)

Any city worker caught conducting inappropriate personal business during work hours should be fired, Winnipeg's mayor told reporters Tuesday.

Winnipeg's chief bureaucrat is leading an investigation into allegations city building inspectors conduct personal business — such as running errands, shopping and lengthy coffee and lunch breaks — during regular business hours.

"I don't think employees who are engaging in the kind of activity that's alleged, if true, should be working for the City of Winnipeg," Brian Bowman said. 

The mayor wants senior administration at all City of Winnipeg departments to ensure every employee is doing a honest day's work. 

The Winnipeg Free Press reported Thursday a group of private investigators followed more than a dozen of the city's building inspectors and reported on their activity.

CBC News received the same information package as the Free Press, which included surveillance video and photos, but has not independently verified any of the material nor confirmed the identity of the group who paid for the investigation. 

Bowman commended the anonymous benefactors. 

"If the allegations are accurate, whoever is behind it will have done a great service for taxpayers," he said. 

"I'm not overly concerned who has ponied up these dollars."

Mayor Brian Bowman calls for slacking city workers to be fired:

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says if the allegations of city inspectors slacking off on city time are true, someone could lose their job. 0:58

It's unclear why the roughly 17 inspectors were chosen — there are 57 inspectors who work for the city — and it's yet unknown whether these employees worked part-time or had any special working arrangements.

Winnipeg's outgoing chief administrative officer, Doug McNeil, announced Thursday he is conducting the internal review. His office is asking for the unnamed group to come forward and release information to assist the city in its own investigation. 

Bowman said Tuesday he has had "some dialogue" with McNeil about the investigation but does not know details, including how thorough the review will be. Still, he is considering consequences. 

"The allegations in the report were serious and I know angered members of council, myself, taxpayers and other members of the public service who work hard and play by the rules," Bowman said.

"I want to see appropriate disciplinary measures taken including if it's appropriate, termination of employment."

CBC contacted CUPE Manitoba president Gord Delbridge Tuesday at noon and are waiting for comment. 

McNeil's office said Tuesday the union has been "very supportive" of the investigation and worked "collaboratively" with investigators.

"At this stage, we are working to confirm the validity of these allegations and to determine what actions can be taken," McNeil's office said in a written statement. 

Bowman says he is unclear how long the McNeil's investigation will take, but asked it to be completed as soon as possible. McNeil retires at the end of May.

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa and Winnipeg. Previously, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.