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Township of Emo facing "staffing challenges," Ministry of Labour investigation

Town council considers “continuity of service” issues in closed-door meeting.
The Township of Emo is located just west of Fort Frances.

EMO, Ont. – The Township of Emo has acknowledged it’s facing “unprecedented staffing challenges” amid a Ministry of Labour investigation.

The township of 1,300 located just west of Fort Frances has advised residents the town office is currently closed as it addresses the issue. The municipal government has also sought staff support from nearby municipalities and advertised it's hiring for numerous staff positions on its website.

Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development confirmed Monday a ministry inspector had issued two compliance orders and two requirements to the municipality, following "field visits" to the community that took place over three days last week.

The investigation was launched after a complaint was received on Nov. 19, and is ongoing, a ministry spokesperson said.

Emo's town council held a meeting to address “continuity of services” for the municipality on Friday, with Mayor Harold McQuaker noting the town was facing staffing issues and mentioning ministry inspectors had visited.

The five-member council entered a private in camera session about a minute into the meeting , leaving little else on the public record.

A statement posted to the township’s website following the meeting said that was a legal necessity.

“Personnel-related challenges are always complex,” the statement reads. “As is appropriate, and as all who have worked in government are keenly aware, most of the work of resolving those challenges requires a high level of confidentiality, and as such, must be done during in-camera sessions of council.”

A job posting on the township's website indicated it was looking for both a deputy treasurer and a casual administrative assistant. A call to the Township of Machin's clerk confirmed she has temporarily assumed duties for Emo.

The township’s statement indicated its office was currently closed due to the staffing issues, but suggested the situation hadn’t impacted other services.

“Council wants to thank residents of Emo for their patience as the work of resolving our unprecedented staffing challenges has continued,” it read. “Currently, the office is closed, but payments are still being accepted and processed by door drop, via mail or via payment through your banking institute. 

“Through the next few weeks, staff will be resuming full services from the town office as is possible. During that time, ratepayers should be assured that all other functions of the municipality continue unimpeded.”

With files from Adam Riley, TBT News.

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