WFPS to investigate ‘unacceptable behaviours’ on social media

By | September 22, 2020

WINNIPEG — An investigation is coming into social media behaviour the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) calls “unacceptable”.

An internal memo from WFPS Chief John Lane on Sept. 18, obtained by CTV News, calls recent instances reported to the department disappointing and says frank discussions are happening in the world about racism, sexism, and prejudice.

In the memo, Lane points to a previous memo reminding staff about city and department expectations for social media use, and says it appears some may not be adhering to those policies.

“Unfortunately, despite these and many efforts to instil and reinforce the importance of compliance with these requirements, it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals,” Lane said in the memo.

“Instances have recently been brought to our attention. This is profoundly disappointing for me, both professionally and personally.”

While the memo does not go into detail regarding the behaviour on social media, The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) which represents paramedics, said some of its members have come forward with concerns.

“It doesn’t really matter who it is, it should not be happening,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky.

“Our members have come forward to say that there’s racism and sexism going on and they have provided documentation to the employer.”

The memo goes on to say the department will investigate the instances and that employees who are found to violate the city’s code of conduct could be subject to disciplinary matters including termination.

The memo also says staff are encouraged to bring forward details of behaviours which are ‘not consistent’ with city standards.

To help employees feel comfortable, Lane said in the memo that a third party is being hired to provide additional assurances of confidentiality.

“It is time for the WFPS to put some action behind the words that were in the memos, saying this isn’t allowed and it needs to stop.”

Alex Forrest, the president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, said he is not commenting at this time as these are personal HR matters.

In a statement to CTV News, the WFPS said as a practice it sends out reminders about corporate policies and said no information will be provided about specific human resources matters involving individuals.

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