Bullying and harassment in the workplace and around the council table were up for discussion at the latest meeting of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.

Hundreds of mayors, reeves and chief administrative officers were in Brandon for the Municipal Officials seminar and break-out sessions.

Many of the sessions dealt with bullying and harassment in the work place.

One of the speakers at the main podium was Minister of Municipal Relations Jeff Wharton. “We’ve had a number of discussions with AMM and are continuing that dialogue and AMM is telling us they are hearing more and more issues that are coming forward.”

Wharton says that is good and bad because it shows there is an issue and the Province of Manitoba isn’t blind to the fact that these types of things go on just like in other places in the work force.

“Now we have a responsibility to look at it and move forward in a fashion that has the municipalities and everyone taking part and making sure it is a collaborative effort to ensure that we all get this right” said Wharton.

Civic elections take place this October and there could be a number of new faces around the council tables and Wharton wants to get any new rule and regulations right and he doesn’t plan to put a time frame on how quickly that will happen.

“Right now every council is mandated by a code of conduct and AMM is telling us look there really isn’t any teeth in this code of conduct and it is a challenge to even more forward when there is an issue base on this current model.”

AMM is looking at a model that will work for all 137 municipalities.

Wharton says the Province of Manitoba is leading by example with its open door policy for people feeling abused at the work place. “People need to know they can go to work and feel safe and conformable and we are going to make sure that that message carries on throughout municipalities including staff CAO’s and alike.”

The new rules will be encompassing legislation that will be looked at through the municipal act. The province looks forward to the June district meetings of the AMM. “From there we hope to get out and get some ideas and work in collaboration with AMM. We will come up with the ideas and model on how to move forward in a relatively quick manner” said Wharton.

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