Meaford's Chamber of Commerce has announced a pending layoff resulting from council's December 9 decision to terminate a tourism services contract with the organization.
In a letter sent to their members on January 17, the Chamber announced that as of March 31, Administrative Assistant, Sheila Ross, will no longer be employed by the Chamber.
“The Meaford Chamber has led the trend for providing local and regional tourist information in this area over the past 12 years. As many of you are aware, on Monday December 9, council voted 4-3 to terminate this contract that was to run until December 31, 2014 without cause,” said the Chamber in the letter.
Ross has worked for the Chamber for six years, and has become known to many in the community as an enthusiastic promoter of the municipality and its many events.
“Many local residents have come to utilize her as a resource for local information as well. The termination of the visitor services contract means that we will no longer be providing the service that Sheila was hired to do,” said the Chamber in the letter.
When contacted by The Independent, Ross declined to comment on the announcement of her termination.
The decision by council to exercise a 90 day termination clause to bring an early end to the contract angered Councillor Barb Clumpus, who accused her fellow councillors of acting unethically.
“With the decision at the last meeting of council to prematurely terminate a legally binding contract, I believe council impugned its integrity, its credibility, and it contradicted the corporate objective to assure community health and well-being, and to provide effective leadership and governance,” Clumpus told her fellow councillors. “The termination without cause of the contract to provide services to tourists through a welcome centre is a serious breach of corporate ethics.”
Clumpus said that while the contract with the Chamber included a 90 day termination clause, she believed that terminating the contract was morally and ethically wrong.
“Our partners, our citizens, and ourselves have the right to expect that decisions affecting them will take into consideration the ethical as well as the technical sides in order to make the right decision. The decision to terminate the contract early did not follow that, and it has severely damaged the standing and reputation of this municipality as an honourable, ethical, and credible business partner and employer. It has also destroyed a vital relationship with a long-standing partner and friend to the municipality,” said Clumpus.
Clumpus, who is a former president of Meaford's Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the motivation of her fellow councillors in terminating the contract were personal rather than professional.
“Our code of conduct speaks directly to the abuse of power and position, and the need to avoid personal interest in the impartial performance of duties. The reason this service was out-sourced to a non-profit organization was because it was more cost-effective than having staff deliver the service. A report on this was not made available prior to the vote,” said Clumpus.