Third-party audit at ELC: Routine due diligence or complaint driven?


city_scope_logo-cmykYou know things have reached the boiling point when former and current staff contact you about the toxic work environment at their place of employment.
Such was the case this week when a former staffer at an Early Learning Centre in St. Thomas called to alert this corner about a festering situation at the centres.
As this individual patiently explained, at stake is the departure of former executive director Patricia Riddell-Laemers, the disbursement of top-up pay ear-marked for staff and allegations some individuals may have been wrongfully dismissed.
Matters apparently have sunk so low, some members of staff have hired a lawyer to delve into Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Education violations at the Early Learning Centre.
The vast majority of staff at the centres are females, very young and fearful of losing their jobs, according to the caller to City Scope. Continue reading

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An ambitious plan to elevate the status of St. Thomas


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At Monday’s city council meeting, Matt Janes, representing On Track St. Thomas, will officially unveil plans to purchase and develop the Michigan Central Railway bridge over Kettle Creek at Sunset Drive. The bridge was constructed in 1929 and at one time carried over 140 trains every day.
In his deputation to council, Janes will announce a vision to honour one of the most iconic structures in southwestern Ontario through the creation of Canada’s first elevated park.
According to Janes, the St. Thomas Elevated Park Project is the single most ambitious undertaking of On Track St. Thomas, the community development organization that assured the preservation of the CASO station and brought the rail-themed murals to downtown.

Easterly view of the Michigan Central Railway bridge, which spans Kettle Creek, Fingal Line and Sunset Drive, clearly shows the massive concrete piers that support the bridge, built in 1929 and last used 2005. Tracks and ties were removed this year.


Janes points in his report that, along with the Elgin County Railway Museum and the restored CASO station, the MCR Kettle Creek bridge is a prominent reminder of the city’s status as the Railway Capital of Canada.
“It is a signature attraction for rail aficionados nationally and internationally,” Janes advises. “As a public place it will be a high profile addition to the CASO-Trans Canada Trail and offer stunning views of the Kettle Creek valley in all directions.
Janes continues, “The On Track vision for the MCR bridge goes much farther however. Through an international design competition, it will become Canada’s first elevated park, joining similar structures such as the High Line in Manhattan and the Boulevard Plantée in Paris.
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Accountability and transparency — when mandated


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While this corner will continue to carefully scrutinize the wheeling and dealing of CEO Paul Collins and board chairman Bruce Babcock, we have nothing but praise for the doctors and staff at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.
With one exception — the dizzying diagnosis from the desk of Dr. Spin over in the hospital ivory tower.
It was contained in the preamble to a media release sent our way Tuesday disclosing the employment agreements for Collins from 2007 to the present, along with a bevy of executive expense reports and minutes of board meetings.
“We believe in transparency and accountability,” stresses Babock in the missive, “and to that end, we have posted a number of documents that may be of interest to our community.”
And, this has been done in proactive fashion.
Oh pul-eeeze.
Ever since City Scope exposed the resign/re-hire shuffle orchestrated by Collins and Babcock exactly one year ago, we have tried to pry loose this information “that may be of interest to our community.”
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Somebody missed the bus with this press release


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A press release from the Chamber of Commerce created an instant stir on the Times-Journal Facebook page after it was posted late Thursday afternoon.
The advisory, from the pen of Chamber CEO Bob Hammersley, “No New Year’s Bus Service?” suggested “there will likely be no free New Year’s Eve bus service in St. Thomas this year.”
A service underwritten by MADD Canada’s St. Thomas-Elgin Chapter for the past four years.
Was this confirmed with Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman or staff at city hall, or was Hammersley jumping to conclusions?
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