Haliburton County Council has accepted the recommendations of Ontario’s Ombudsman after being found in violation of the Municipal Act.
On Wednesday (Dec. 13), council discussed Paul Dubé’s report that an April 27 closed meeting to discuss the Minden ER closure with Haliburton Highlands Health Services officials did not meet the requirements to hold a closed session.
County CAO Gary Dyke told council that councillors and staff will now go through additional training and identify changes in procedure to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Given the circumstances, I’m not really certain that any reasonable person would not have done the same thing we did,” said Minden councillor Bob Carter. Carter said while he accepts the findings and is not criticizing the role of the Ombudsman, it is “off-putting” that this time and money was spent to address a technicality.
“The fact of the matter is that we are receiving this report that took a team of lawyers from the Ombudsman’s office more than four months of investigating to find that we technically didn’t follow one of their rules,” said Carter. “We had approximately two days in the midst of a crisis to put together the meeting.”
County Warden Liz Danielsen noted that Dubé did “acknowledge fairly” the short timeframe and incomplete knowledge council had at the time. “We do have to accept it, lessons learned, and move forward,” said Danielsen. “But under the circumstances, I think we did the best that we could, and we’ll move forward with it.”