Cornwall hiring freeze melts under confusion

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A city-wide hiring freeze, brought to city council by the budget committee, has fallen apart over mass confusion with the proposal.

The original motion by Coun. Andre Rivette at the budget committee on March 9 was to “recommend to council a hiring freeze for 2018, effectively immediately.”

But when Rivette spoke on this motion, the proposal fell like a house of cards under the weight of confusion. In fact, Rivette’s “freeze”, as he explained it, was to actually have any vacant full-time city positions covered by temporary workers and, in the case of essential positions, reviewed by city council before hiring.

“It’s a freeze, but it’s not a freeze,” Coun. Claude McIntosh quipped, suggesting he understood the intent of Rivette’s motion but having staff come to council two dozen times in a year with candidates for hire was not practical.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert characterized Rivette’s proposal as “micromanaging at its best” and, if it was intended from the budget committee to be a cost-saving measure, it probably wouldn’t achieve that goal.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald said city workers are already stretched doing multiple jobs and “the wheels (will) fall off the bus because there’s nobody there to drive it” if the hiring suspension went ahead.

In the end, the hiring freeze was iced in a 7-4 vote. Those voting for it were Couns. Maurice Dupelle, Mark MacDonald, Andre Rivette and David Murphy.