Whistleblowing Deputy Fire Chief Rob Hickley of Cornwall Ontario Forced Into Early Retirement by City of Cornwall

rob hickley interviewCornwall Ontario –  Long time Deputy Fire Chief Rob Hickley issued a statement including his letter of retirement today.

CFN is printing both unedited.

You have asked for my comments about the fact that I had to retire on October 9, 2013.


I have been on short term sick leave. My health has deteriorated and after consultation

with my Doctor in August, he recommended that I not return to work until my health



As my short term sick leave was expiring, my doctor completed an

application for long term disability (LTD) for me. The City’s LTD provider has denied

the application for LTD but noted that it does not have sufficient medical evidence.

I am providing that additional medical evidence and have until December to file an



I am engaged in litigation over the Whistleblower Policy, under the control of Council,

and my employment was supposed have been protected. My lawyer asked for paid

leave of absence, or Administrative Leave, on October 2, 2013 to the lawyer for City

Council. To date there has been no response.


As my short term benefits and all income were ending. I asked for a meeting with the

CAO Mr. Levac.


On October 8th, I asked Mr. Levac to consider various options.


I asked for an extension of my sick leave while my LTD application is under appeal, but that was denied.


I asked for Administrative Leave, the same as Mr. Fitzpatrick was given in 2012, but

now I am told “there are no provisions for Administrative Leave”. I was told by Mr. Levac

that he would not take my request for Administrative Leave to Council.


I asked that a voluntary payment be made to OMERS to bridge to my earliest retirement

date, which is seven months away. That was also denied.


I was given the option of returning to work immediately or retire. Returning to work is not

recommended by my physician, as noted above and the circumstances of the litigation

would be problematic in the workplace.


Although the seven month deficit will have a significant negative impact on my pension for the rest of my life, I still require an income.


I really had no choice except to retire.


To my knowledge, Council was not asked to decide its answers to my request for Administrative Leave.


My retirement letter is attached.

And her is Mr. Hickley’s letter unedited.


October 9, 2013


Mr. Norm Levac

Chief Administrative Officer

City of Cornwall


Mr. Levac


Reluctantly and with regret, I am forced at this time, to retire from my employment as Deputy Fire Chief with the Cornwall Fire Service. My retirement shall be effective as of Wednesday, October 09, 2013.


In light of previous administrative leave provisions given to other members of management, I am very offended, that I, who have done nothing wrong and have been an exemplary employee, have been given so little consideration and support.

John Robert Hickley


cc. Members of Council

     Fay Brunning


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  1. I think this is appalling he was denied long term disability.. I do not understand why he was denied it and why he did not have other recourse.. I am fairly new to Ontario the employment/long term disability laws rules are different here.. This is disgraceful to say the least…

  2. I have absolutely no use or respect for a Mayor and council that cannot/will not stand up and address head on a situation which casts a shadow over the very community that they are bound to represent and serve.

    This obvious slap in the face and lack of leadership needs to be remembered for a long period of time. This is not a group of individuals to be proud of or happy with their contribution (lack of).

    I have been a resident of Cornwall for the last 26 years and these representatives of the community embarrass me. Election time cannot possible come soon enough, at least for me.

  3. What a disgrace…Rob has been a dedicated city employee , who loved his job and will miss it every day. Based on the information in the above letter,doesn’t say much for the city of Cornwall as an employer.

  4. Deputy Chief
    You have my deepest sympathy
    The Insurance companies seem to have a long track record of denying LTD
    My best friend was on stress leave and his Ottawa psychiatrist told him he was very ill and needed to stay off work…
    He then informed the Insurance company my pal just didn’t want to work
    To win his case Insurance company said he had to find two other mental health doctors to prove the first one was mistaken. Luckily this quack was well known by his peers and my friend got his LTD
    Fight Back!
    If Manulife, Great-West Life, Sun Life, Desjardins, Standard Life, RBC, or any other insurance company has denied your claim or terminated your benefits prematurely you should FIGHT BACK. Hire a Toronto Disability Lawyers to sue the insurance company in court and get back the benefits you are owed. An experienced lawyer with expertise in disability law can put you on even footing with the insurance company. They can pursue not only your benefits, but also damages for mental stress caused by the termination or denial of benefits.

    No Upfront Legal Fees
    At Disability Lawyer Toronto we do not take any upfront fees when fighting the insurance company on your behalf. We will pay for all the expenses of the lawsuit, including the cost of having you examined by a medical expert. You only pay if we successfully reach a settlement with the insurance company or if we win your case in court.

  5. Its like Service Ontario I cancelled an online Birth Certificate request and they sent me a form letter saying they wouldn’t offer me a refund for the $35 fee.

    I sent them a copy of an email sent to Ontario Leader Katherine saying this was unfair…and MAGICALLY
    two days later they sent me another form letter saying they were sorry I didn’t like their service and my money would be refunded

    Its so sad they work this way…if I hadn’t complained NO REFUND…guess that’s what they hope happens but they have the FORM letter ready…for any upset customer
    Pretty sure the Insurance companies refusing Mr Hickley’s claim are probably working the same way.

  6. I would not pee on this city council if it were on fire.

  7. Funny the article never says what he’s disability is! To tell you the truth probably 90% of the worlds population has a disability of some kind. But you know what we continue to work or we at least try. So what go sit on your couch for the rest of your life to rot there? Who’s to say they wouldn’t have just gave him a desk job because he’s sick right? But no take the easy way out and blame others, typical thing to do now a days.

  8. Steve…wow..You obviously have no clue what this story is based on….do some research before commenting on a story that you have no knowledge of…..I could go on (about your comment) {MODERATED}.

  9. Steve,

    Knowledge is power so I will give you some information to help you clarify this issue:

    Being a Whislteblower is like entering an alternate universe where right becomes wrong, good becomes bad and all common sense is gone.

    1. If you go to fairwhistleblower.ca you will find an abundance of research on the impact of Whistleblowing on individuals, coworkers and corporations.

    2. I like Deputy Hickley am a Whislteblower and our journey’s have been for the same reason, to protect the public.

    3. The City has followed the same blueprint all Corporations follow when admitting wrong doing is covered up. They Deny everything as they did in my case.

    4. Then they Delay prosecution, again as they did in my case and once they have exhausted that avenue they eventually plead guilty based on the facts.

    5. During all the denials and delays they do everything they can to Divide the person from all those around them. You see I did go back to work and was exposed yet again to ongoing bullying, harassment, intimidation which in turn intimidated my coworkers who became distant. Fear is a great motivator and I completely understood the position my friends and coworkers were in and are still in. They will spend millions of dollars of tax payers monies to protect themselves and the damage left in their wake impacts not just the Whistleblower but anyone seen to be aligned with the Whistleblower also becomes a target.
    6. Last but certainly not least they try Discredit you since they do not have the truth to protect them they use lies. I would not wish such viscous attacks on my worst enemy and yet in order to do the right thing you have to try and not only withstand them yourself but watch as your friends, coworkers and family are exposed to them.

    The result is severe trauma for the Whistleblower as well as those who are exposed to the ongoing attacks.

    I do hope that this information will help you understand this issue a little better because no one every looks to be put in a position forcing them to make life defining decisions.

    I have also learned that most Whistleblowers do not return to work which if asked to today I would recommend the same thing. Bullies are relentless and will only stop when they are satisfied that they have destroyed you.

    Take care,

    Diane Shay

  10. Diane, always a pleasure reading your comments. However, as a taxpayer, I must say I’m livid the way, our administration treats & has treated our employees. Once again, our elected puppets, sat on their collected thumbs & said nothing, as usual. Not one of our elected representatives, stood up & said “boo” ! Where was our champion of “workers” rights, Elaine ? Not a peep out of her. While were on a role, what about Bernie, our legal aid specialist, usually talks & talks & talks, I guess when she should of stood up & defended our whistlblowers X2, the cat got her tongue ?
    Next fall, (election) cannot get here fast enough for me, none of this gang, will receive my support, NONE OF THEM !
    Diane & Rob, “Bullies are relentless and will only stop when they are satisfied that they have destroyed you”. My friends, they have not destroyed you !

  11. So the Standard Freeholder finally got on this story… they claim Deputy Chief sent letter to Media..somehow I think this isn’t true…and they are writing based on the letter CFN got??????

    SF quote “In a letter to media, Hickley said he “had no choice except to retire.”

    Like Bill Clinton and sex I guess the devil is in the details

  12. Donald,

    I may be down (as the City is well aware of since they have a medical file on me) but I am not out. By the way, when I return to work in 2010 and went to pull my medical file, it was missing. I was told it was in Paul Fitzpatrick’s office yet another example showing that some people believed they are above the law. I emailed him to return it and I received it that same day. Medical files are confidential and to be maintained in HR and not given or shown to anyone and that includes the CAO.

    Take Care,

    Diane Shay

  13. Problem is, these people running the city are convinced nothing is wrong, excuse and abuse after excuse and abuse. Mr. Levac I have lost so much respect for you, you of all people supporting this Mayor, this council is disgusting to say the least.

    Yes, where is Elaine and Bernie? oh yes Elaine is in a fight over getting money for the front entrance of the Agape Centre or posing in front of a collection bin. She thinks that’s more important then what is really right. Bernie? we simply can’t find her anywhere until its her turn to stand and speak, then its time to {MODERATED}myself.

    God bless you Rob!

  14. I have known Rob for over 40 years both professionally & personally.
    I for one am very happy that he has retired.
    Spend time with friends & family & leave that life behind you.
    We all want to have the ole fun’lovin’ fella back with the quick wit & quick fingers on the frets.

  15. This Really Is Cornwall,

    Please don’t forget that one Councillor did stand up and speak out in my case, Leslie O’Shaughnessy. Unfortunately once he spoke out and refused to follow the program he too then became a target as all those who align themselves with Whistleblowers become.

    Take care,

    Diane Shay

  16. Statement in SF ( CAO ) attempting to justify why former CAO FITZ got Long Term Disability , the claim being that he FITZ was the sole employee who works directly for Council , In addition Norm refused to take Rob Hickley’s request for LTD to Council after he refused to back him up. NO FAIRNESS THERE NORM .
    I’am very eager for an election to toss out the dead wood at City Hall and that most certainly includes Mayor Kilger .

  17. Author

    Believe me what’s becoming apparent though is that certain city managers and staff are in fact supporting some of the oddness from our elected officials instead of representing what’s best for the City of Cornwall and following certain decorum of professionalism. Some of these folks are on the Sunshine list. Some of them have to go if we are going to change the culture. One of my fears is that as the corrupted incompetent get tossed they are replaced by the jr monkey’s already being groomed.

  18. Admin ” One of my fears is that as the corrupted incompetent get tossed they are replaced by the jr monkey’s already being groomed.”

    Yes agreed ,but certainly after all these issues there should be some fresh faces .
    How about that gentleman who offered to run for free and donate his pay to charity as he had in 2 past municipal elections ?

    Certainly there are a few new faces that could present themselves ,as we have to get rid of the status Quo!

    Change wont happen unless we have NEW people toss their hats in the ring as well as citizens of Cornwall stand up as well BY VOTING!

  19. Admin :

    Have you any suggestions of interested persons that should run -perhaps Mark Macdonald?

  20. Author

    All in good time Highlander 🙂

  21. Wasn’t there a note or something written a while ago relating to a person’s family member not able to receive LTD? It went through Bob Kilgers office when he was MP. I think it was some form of crippling arthritis.
    How do you deny a person when they have all the medical requirements and documents?

  22. What the heck is going on here?! The initial actions of Mr. Lavac in this situation, in my opinion seems illegal. This is such a shame and shows how crooked city council is. As if they can bend the law and due process to serve their own agenda. Collectively, as a community we should boycot any thing this council does, shame them at public events, show up at meet the candidates night and heckle them until they have no choice but to leave the stage. Bernadette, you should be a shamed of your self, you call yourself a lawyer?! And Elaine, what a joke for you to be flinting around the city spouting your party line, as for the Mayor, if he gets another crack at running this city, I’ll be shocked!!

  23. Admin : The man best qualified to replace Mayor Kilger if he will run is Leslie O ‘ Shaughnessy and he alone is
    not only clean of this City Admin, but that man has the backbone to clean up the mess . Leslie has more experience than anyone here in our town , however he can’t do it alone , it will require many new councilors around the table to help . Leslie please consider running,as I told you face to face I’ll support you till Hell freezes over and rest assured I won’t be alone .

  24. Rob Hickley,

    You have earned my respect as well has Diane Shay.
    Locally we have a council that has no respect on the principles of the Whistle-blowing legislation.

    I admire the both of you for “putting it on the line” and speaking up in the interest of the taxpayer’s,whereby our elected council has acted in bad faith to the both of you when you are being advocates for the taxpayers .
    My children have learned that bullying does not only exist in the school yard but is very prevalent in our city councils actions as my oldest has witnessed .
    This has certainly not set a fine example to teach our children ,but as well the many other adults out there that a just society should condone this type of behavior particularly those that represent the people.

    Rob and Diane I wish you both the best in your future endeavors ,and remain proud that you continue to stand up with your principles against a system that treated the whistle blower as the one at fault .

    Thank you for standing up for the taxpayer,as we have learned that the municipality does not!

    Take care


  25. I am looking for my father and my mother said his name is Bob. I was conceived on the bar at the Bestwestern in the 80’s, can anyone help me? I was told he his ruthless and a liar, disrespecting and a cheater but most of all he is very selfish. I’d like to find him to tell him what I really think of him but only after I ask for a job at the fire station cause I want to work along side a fellow by the name Chad who I am told could be a step-brother to me.

  26. WOW! So many great comments…To Its me: Maybe Kilger should use that as his next platform speech if he even has the balls to put his useless name on the election list. “WE THE CITY OF CORNWALL RESIDENTS NEED TO SHAME THIS IDIOT AND THE REST OF THEM” just the way they have done to us.
    To Rob and Diane…Thanks for doing what was right and telling the truth as it is.
    CORRUPTION in Cornwall has lasted too long!!!

  27. ADMIN maybe it is time to grab a bunch of bananas and join the troop !

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