CORNWALL Ontario – A new whistle blower has gone public. RN Julie Johnston of Cornwall Ontario who works at Glen Stor Dun Lodge has submitted a letter which we have published unedited below.
Ms Johnston is the nurse that submitted 11 letters to council that never made their way directly; not once, but twice. CFN has confirmed via two sources that Mayor Kilger in a closed session apologized to council who later were “emailed” what may or may not have been the original letter in its entirety.
None of the council at that time took this issue to the police or held Mayor Kilger or CAO Paul Fitzpatrick accountable publicly although Mr. Fitzpatrick, clerk Denise Labelle Gelinas, and HR Manager Rob Menagh were all “retired” or terminated without cause.
Reading this letter and seeing the repeated pattern of brutality towards an employee my question to all of the current council; especially lawyer Bernadette Clement, would be why this was covered up? Once Maurice Dupelle brought this into council why didn’t any of the council demand the original letters and only accept an email? And of course why wasn’t the CCPS brought in immediately as the CAO should have done?
Open letter to the public.
After four years, I’ve decided to come forward hesitantly, in hopes to give a perspective that whistleblowers are indeed penalized for bringing forth concerns and that many failures exist within the hierarchy of governance.
What I’ve learned is that process is not respected nor followed by those who enforce it. Although I did follow process and kept my concerns contained within council, my charge was that I did not follow process. Despite rethinking my actions, I am confident today that the process in bringing concerns forward was the right thing to do.
As a registered nurse, not only did I have a moral obligation, I had a legal obligation which could not be ignored. To try and silence or intimidate whistleblowers indicates that despite the system in place, those who hold power are exempt from it. More importantly, the term whistleblower directly attests that a problem exists within the confines of those who we depend on to correct the problems. As a city employee, it is concerning and unacceptable.
The process in which my anonymous letter was eventually brought to council was the first step into many cumulative and failed processes that directly conflicts with the standards which were designed to protect and support the whistleblower.
On December 6, 2010, my brother delivered 11 envelopes to city hall describing concerns related to resident care, signs of strained management and staff at the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge. Each envelope was addressed to each council member and one to the mayor. The councillors did not receive that copy. I sent another 11 copies on December 13, 2010, but this time was sent by a local delivery service. The councillors did not receive that copy either, however, the manager in question was given a copy days before council received theirs.
I was eventually suspended for two and half months, five weeks without pay, interrogated without union representation, lack of support, no protection and of course the threat of being fired, all for writing an anonymous letter addressing concerns regarding patient care and strained management/staff. I was told to “go home, lie low, go underground and let it go” after my interrogation without union representation which violated everything that bill 168 stands for, violated the union contract and violated the city policy.
Eventually, the union and city accepted that I lose five days of pay. It is upsetting to know that after 10 years of employment and dedication, I was now considered a “shady” employee and “disloyal” to the company. In fact, it was said that my anonymous letter was “damaging.” I’d like to know to whom, because as far as I am concerned, the damage was not having basic supplies for resident care chronically, signs of strained management and a toxic work environment within the home which directly impacted resident care. Disloyal and shady indicates that I am not trustworthy, however, in my 10 years as an employee, I was never disciplined in any way. Why was I penalized with failing to follow procedure when in fact, they did not respect the legislation or their own existing policies? Whistleblowers come forward knowing that their careers are in jeopardy so to say or think that we are being disloyal, shady etc., is exactly the problem and constrains any growth to the company.
During these last four years, I’ve observed a strained city council too, which indicates problems are beyond the managers who were involved. I commend Mr. O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Rivette in their efforts to uphold transparency and fairness at the forefront of their elected roles. I respect Mr. O’Shaughnessy for stepping down in his attempt to protest against the allegations of:
- illegal meetings,
- misleading information,
- inaccurate information and
- most importantly withheld information.
As an elected official, one would expect nothing less than the oath they took when they assumed this responsibility. Can you imagine if whistleblowers never came forward and how that neglect would impact others including those who are most vulnerable and dependent on us? The unfortunate thing for everyone who has come forward so far was that an opportunity was missed. The opportunity to discuss, plan, implement and move forward. It was abolished as a result of the threatening manner in which they decided to proceed. What does that say about the current state of affairs?
I have hope with the elections around the corner that new people will be elected. I am hopeful that an effective process to protect whistleblowers will be established. I hope that with respect, our city will thrive and that the scandals will be laid to rest. It is never too late to correct a wrong. Never!!!
I also want to take this opportunity to reassure that our present managers at the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge have corrected the concerns addressed in my letter and they continue to thrive so that the Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge is the best facility in the surrounding area.
Julie Johnston RN
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