By: Laurie Watt – Barrie Advance
BARRIE – Barrie can be a good global citizen and a model employer as it joins in a national municipal program to help Caribbean municipalities, says transportation and economic development committee chairperson Coun. John Brassard.
And it won’t cost staff vacation time after an ammendment failed.
Ward 1 Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth said Monday she supports the idea of city employees volunteering abroad, but the city shouldn’t have to pay those who choose to participate. They should use their vacation time, she said.
“It’s difficult to justify sending a person away a couple times a year to the Caribbean to help their economy and at the same time have a view of looking for staff efficiencies and time savings,” she said.
“It’s not that I’m against the program. If everyone goes on their vacation, I don’t have a problem with it.”
Ainsworth’s ammendment didn’t pass.
Monday night, Brassard advocated Barrie join the Caribbean Local Economic Development Program, a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) initiative that shares best practices for safe drinking water, planning and development, staff training and health.
“The Canadian economy is just as much a knowledge-driven economy as a commodity-driven one,” he said. “(Community operations general manager Richard) Forward has spent time overseas representing Barrie at water-quality initiatives.
“This is a great initiative and if Barrie’s best and brightest have the opportunity to be ambassadors, we should back this. They’re not on a beach drinking pina coladas. They’re down there working.”
FCM covers all mission-related expenses and creates teams. The cost to Barrie would be staff time and wages.
Ward 8 Coun. Arif Khan said the program is an opportunity for staff and for the city.
“It’s a global initiative. Whether it’s worker satisfaction or corporate citizenship, to give staff an opportunity (is great),” he said.
With councillors split on the issue, every vote mattered.
Ward 5 Coun. Peter Silveira initially supported the ammendment to make employees use vacation time, but changed his mind after hearing Ladd – who has been a part of FCM missions – speak about the benefits for not only those who go but for those they help.
“When you go away on a mission, you work through the weekend,” she said. “You don’t get to lay on the beach.”
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