CORNWALL, Ontario - Managers at city hall take complaints of so-called "time theft" seriously and have protocols in place to ensure employees follow municipal policies while working in the field, CAO Norm Levac said Wednesday.
Levac was responding to a series of general questions about the monitoring of city employees, from departments like municipal works, parks and recreation and others where responsibilities take them outside the office.
Last week Seaway News confirmed five employees from the municipal works department were terminated for infractions related to time theft.
Sources said the five individuals are sub-foremen, who oversee work completed by rank and file members of the municipal works department.
Sources indicate city councillors were notified of the move in an e-mail a short time after the dismissals took place.
While city officials will not discuss specific personnel issues, Levac said the city regularly investigates complaints related to time theft, but was quick to point out Cornwall is no different than other communities in that regard.
"These are issues we are concerned with and always have been," he said. "We investigate all these complaints. Sometimes they are substantiated and sometimes they are not.
"It is a concern across the industry. All municipalities have issues like that."
Earlier this year the City of Hamilton turfed nearly 30 employees in its public works department for time theft, neglect of duty and breach of trust.
Managers in that city used GPS installed in municipal vehicles to track the whereabouts of employees and launch an investigation.
Many Cornwall municipal vehicles, up to and including police cruisers, are outfitted with GPS units.
Levac said the GPS units, as well as work orders, time sheets and in-person visits by supervisors help shape an employee's work day.
And Levac said city managers often meet to determine whether those existing protocols, as well as others, are effectively policing the municipal work force.
"It's ongoing," he said. "We routinely have weekly meetings where we go through how things might be improved.
"We're always trying to implement measures that will do so."