Recently, The Review shared a story stating that the Town of Hawkesbury had made plans to permanently lay off three employees.
The dismissals were discussed by council at a Committee of the Whole meeting on June 16 in camera, but a recommendation to proceed with the layoffs was approved by council in open session, which led Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Gatien to express concern that the layoffs had been made public, even though the employees had not yet been notified. The names and positions of the employees were not identified at that meeting.
However, Mayor Paula Assaly has confirmed that Kim Maurice, the Aquatics Supervisor at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex, and Martin Desrosiers, an employee responsible for municipal infrastructure, have been dismissed. The mayor could not comment on the third layoff.
Assaly noted that the sports complex will likely remain closed until September due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. She said that the town is implementing processes, procedures, and repairs to ensure the safety and well-being of facility users and employees.
At the June 16 Committee of the Whole meeting, three councillors voted against the directive to proceed with the dismissal of the employees.
“We were kind of surprised when they brought it up,” said Councillor Raymond Campbell, about when the employee dismissals were discussed in closed session.
Campbell said that he, nor Councillors Robert Lefebvre and Yves Paquette were aware before the meeting that the departure of three municipal employees would be discussed. The three councillors also voted against the directive to proceed with the dismissals.
He said that no strong reasons were presented for the employee dismissals.
“It’s not the time to do that,” Campbell commented. He is concerned about how the departure of the employees will affect the eventual reopening of the sports complex.
“We were very surprised,” said Councillor Yves Paquette.
“It seems like other councillors knew,” he added.
Councillor Robert Lefebvre said that the directive to dismiss the three employees was a scenario that was laid out to council during the closed session.
“There was no real preliminary discussion or anything,” he said.
Lefebvre explained that for him, transparency is the most important thing, and he said that all councillors were elected promising to be transparent. He recalled that his recommendation in late 2019 to establish a Committee of the Whole session for council intended to ensure everyone was informed of issues at the same time.
“That didn’t happen this time,” said Lefebvre.
Councillor André Chamaillard voted to accept the directive, along with Mayor Paula Assaly and Councillors Lawrence Bogue and Antonios Tsourounakis.
Chamaillard does not believe there are any serious personal tensions between council members or town administration. He said that his focus is on doing his job as a councillor.
The other councillors said that relations are generally good, even if there are occasional disagreements.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis said that the disagreements councillors sometimes have are more procedural in nature than anything else. He added that votes that are not unanimous do not need to be a source of strife.
The Review contacted Councillor Lawrence Bogue for his comments but no response had been received as of 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 29.
Some Hawkesbury residents are not pleased with one of the permanent layoffs. Resident Sandy Vachon has launched a petition at change.org to express what she calls the “indignation following the incomprehensible and unjustified dismissal of our aquatic supervisor, Kim Maurice.”
Vachon’s introduction to the petition notes Maurice’s 10 years of experience with the Town of Hawkesbury and 20 years of experience in aquatics. The introduction highlights her dedication to ensuring thousands of local children have learned to swim and refers to the special attention she gave to children with special needs.
“For the benefit of all residents and non-residents who enjoy the benefits of the pool, please reconsider your decision,” reads the introduction.