Modernized Governance

Charlottetown City Council Moves Forward with Modernized Governance System
Posted on 04/21/2023
At a Special Meeting held April 20, Charlottetown Council approved a number of resolutions prioritizing the modernization of its governance system, allowing the City to move forward.

The resolutions passed are a result of the BDO Canada LLP report initiated by the City as an independent external review into allegations made in relation to governance and human resource management. On February 6, 2023, BDO Canada LLP submitted its final report to the City and a redacted version was made publicly available.

“I’m confident that the issues raised have been looked at with clear eyes and are being addressed effectively and transparently,” says Mayor Philip Brown. “We’re ready to move forward and the Special Meeting included a comprehensive outline of how we’re going to do so.”

Under the Prince Edward Island Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, Sections 14(1)(a-c), 15(1), 15(2)(e), 15(4)(d), 22(1)(b)(c)(g), the City could not release the full unredacted report without the permission of impacted individuals or businesses. Since releasing the original report, Administration has requested permission from impacted individuals and businesses and Council approved that a less redacted report would be released soon.

Council also resolved to request BDO Canada LLP rename the report to “Investigation of Complaints for the City of Charlottetown”. Use of the term “whistle blower” in the report title is incorrect as it is used by and for the protection of existing employees when making complaints about their employer; the subject complaints were lodged after the complainant’s employment with the City ended.

On Council’s instruction, Administration developed a BDO Report Recommendations and Implementation Matrix to show how and when it will propose and make improvements to City bylaws, policies, and procedures based on those recommendations. Council resolved to receive this Matrix which will update Council and Charlottetown residents on progress on a quarterly basis. As a working Matrix, information in it will be updated as progress is made.

Eleven additional allegations were made as the BDO Canada LLP report was effectively completed and therefore it did not address these additional complaints. As these complaints are similar in issue to those in the BDO Canada LLP Report, only two of the additional 11 allegations will be examined further. The first relates to inventory mismanagement. The second allegation is in relation to section 26.5(d) of the City’s Code of Conduct Bylaw and the question of whether the financial consequence of being suspended for up to 90 days meets the Prince Edward Island Municipal Government Act. Information on the outcomes of these two investigations will be released as it becomes available.

To date, the City of Charlottetown has expended $290,159 on the BDO Canada LLP report, approximately $80,000 in legal fees, and countless staff hours to address individual complaints and concerns of former employees in relation to governance, bylaws, policies, and procedures from 2012 to February 2023 – all connected to the BDO review. The results of the BDO Canada LLP report have fully detailed where the City needs to improve and the BDO Recommendations and Implementation Matrix sets a clear path forward for Council and the Corporation. The majority of the additional 11 allegations require the same actions of remedy already identified in the BDO Report Recommendations and Implementation Matrix.

As the City moves forward, City Hall is adopting a continuous improvement management approach to ensure that bylaws, policies, and procedures are updated to manage risk, to provide accountability and transparency, while continuing to deliver customer service excellence.

Council acknowledges the value of the information shared by former employees in helping City Hall set a new path and extends its gratitude to former interim Chief Administrative Officer Donna Waddell and current Administration for investing their time and effort in making sure that BDO Canada LPP had all the historic documentation needed for the review. Council would also like to thank Charlottetown residents in advance for understanding that it’s time to start focusing on today and our collective future.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why didn’t the BDO Canada Report LLP investigate the City of Charlottetown potentially not meeting the requirements of the Prince Edward Island Municipal Government Act?

The scope of work was based on the specific initial allegations. Issues found with bylaws, policies, and procedures were not in contradiction to the Municipal Government Act. The City of Charlottetown is continually improving its interpretation and implementation of the Municipal Government Act. As the City moves forward in modernizing its governance system, learnings are being implemented and alignment with the Municipal Government Act is being ensured in all aspects of City governance and business.

Why would Council pass a motion that any further matters raised regarding governance, bylaws, policies, and procedures that fall under the themes of recommendations in the BDO Report, from January 1, 2012 to February 1, 2023 not be investigated?

The City has expended significant resources to address complaints mainly from one individual. While the investigation has provided valuable guidance on better practise moving forward, this motion indicates Administration will no longer be spending resources to investigate complaints that will lead to the same outcome. For example, issues raised point to weaknesses in City procurement. The BDO Report Recommendations and Implementation Matrix repeatedly indicates that the procurement bylaw is being written with a timeline for completion.

What were the issues raised by the most recent past Deputy Chief Administrative Officer? Why aren’t they being investigated?

Those issues identified targeted individuals and do not reveal fraud or misappropriation of City property. Instead, the issues are focused on governance issues similar to those identified in the BDO Canada LLP Report, role clarity, difference in leadership styles, and communications. The individuals named and involved are no longer with the City and, due to the Prince Edward Island Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, information on those individuals involved cannot be released without their consent.

The new CAO and City Council are committed to providing leadership on all of the requisite changes to modernize governance structure, including role clarity, and improved communications.