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MD of Bonnyville reeve apologizes for prayer

'It has been brought to my attention that I took it upon myself to implement the opening prayer with no regards to council,' states MD Reeve Barry Kalinski.

BONNYVILLE – The regular council meeting of the MD of Bonnyville on Jan. 12, started with an unusual tone. Rather than a prayer for the Municipality, its staff and its residents, Reeve Barry Kalinski began with an apology. 

“There will be no opening prayer this morning. It has been brought to my attention that I took it upon myself to implement the opening prayer with no regards to council. So, to this council, I apologize,” Kalinski expressed to council and MD employees that were present at the Wednesday morning meeting. 

“To my knowledge, the past two reeves asked staff to pray as well. I'm going to continue to pray for the MD of Bonnyville, even if we don't start with a prayer,” he said, adding that in no way was it his intention to make staff feel they were being directed or forced to pray.  

During a MD meeting of the whole on Jan. 19, council will consider whether the practice of starting council meetings with a prayer will continue.  

Kalinski also took a moment to make his regrets known for wearing a baseball style cap during a private meeting with members from the Town of Bonnyville, as well as in photos with the municipality’s staff, who were being recognized for achievements.

Councillor expresses confusion over rescinding policy  

During last week’s meeting, council was asked to rescind six municipal policies that related to human resources policies for MD staff.

Council heard that the following policies – Injury on the Job Policy, the Performance Review Policy, the Employee Compensation Policy, the Personnel Files Policy, the Personnel Policy and the Driver Abstract Policy – should be rescinded as they were folded into the Human Resources Management Policy that had been passed by council on Dec. 8.

“(The) Human Resources Management Policy also identified the Human Resources Handbook (as) being the tool for implementation of guiding principles and incorporates all the previous policies, procedures, and directives into one living document,” Tolulope Maraiyesa, the general manager of corporate services, told council.

As the Human Resources Handbook was implemented effect of Jan. 1, 2022, the following policies are no longer required, she continued.

The Human Resources Handbook is available on Municipality's intranet for staff to review but is not publicly available on the internet. During the discussion, Coun. Darcy Skarsen would note that council members do not have access to the MD’s intranet servers.

Prior to the motion being passed, Coun. Dana Swigart pointed out that members of councils were unable to review the new HR handbook that is said to include the policies that the administration is asking to be rescinded.

“I went through the different policies, and I understand that we would want to rescind them but unfortunately, I couldn't find the handbook. I set out to review that handbook just to make sure that all other policies that we are rescinding were actually covered in the handbook... I just wonder if council’s happy with rescinding these without actually reading the handbook?”

In response to Swigart’s comments, the MD’s CAO Al Hoggan said, “Council approved the overarching policy 2C.032 back in December, which gave the administration the authority to create the handbook and to manage staff the best way possible. The HR handbook is not a council approved document, the policy by which the handbook was created was a council approved policy. So, these things we have incorporated for one stop shopping for staff... Having a council go through the manual to confirm these things would be counterproductive, you may as well approve the manual.”

Noting that he was not in agreement with that reasoning, Swigart added, “If you're rescinding documents that we have had in the past, as a council, how can you be sure that we're actually covering an issue – just trust the CAO?... that’s why I’m curious why we are even involved in this discussion about rescinding if we have no input.”

“Mr. Reeve and members of council, it goes to the simple question of who manages staff,” Hoggan stated in reply.

Ultimately, council voted to approve the rescinding of all six human resource policies relating to MD employees. At no point were council members offered or given the opportunity to review the handbook.

Reeve Kalinski and councillors Ben Fadeyiw, Josh Crick, Skarsen, Don Slipchuk, and Mike Krywiak supported the motion. Councillor Swigart opposed the motion.

Jan. 28 meeting cancelled

Council approved the cancellation of the Jan. 26 regular council meeting due to multiple council members being registered to take part in a conference that overlaps the scheduled meeting.  

As of Jan. 12, four members of council were registered to attend the 2022 provincial Agricultural Service Board (ASB) conference taking place from Jan. 25-27.  

If all four members attended the conference, there would not be enough members of council to meet the quorum for the Jan. 26 regular meeting Council. 

This article was updated on Jan. 19, 2022, to reflect that Councillor Josh Crick supported the motion to rescind six human resources from the MD of Bonnyville's policies. Lakeland Today previously reported that Crick had opposed the motion.

Jazmin Tremblay

About the Author: Jazmin Tremblay

Jazmin completed a minor in journalism at Hanze University in the Netherlands and completed her Communication Studies degree from MacEwan University with a major in journalism.
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