Ombudsman finally closes file on ‘tainted’ 2016 Niagara Region CAO hiring


Published September 14, 2022 at 10:52 am

Ontario Ombudsman J. Paul Dubé has finally closed their file on the “tainted” Niagara Region 2016 Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) hiring process.

At the time, there were suspicions that former CAO Carmen D’Angelo had received confidential documents from with the region that enabled him to be chosen for the job.

The resulting fall-out saw staffers leave Niagara headquarters, as well as court cases, lawsuit and countersuits flying around like mosquitoes at a picnic.

In the end, Dubé gave Niagara Region new marching orders in his 2019 “Inside Job” report. The ombudsman sent a letter to the region on September 7, saying he was satisfied that all 16 of his recommendations had been implemented and that “my Office will be closing our file in this matter.”

Some of the recommendations included:
  1. Implement a formal code of ethics and policies to protect confidential information, including employment contracts, and that anyone involved in a hiring process is required to sign a confidentiality agreemen
  2. Provide staff and councillors with additional training on the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well the proper use and retention of email and corporate records
  3. Create policies that ensure no candidate is given an unfair advantage in a hiring process (including sharing interview questions and answers with one specific individual)
  4. Limit the role and influence of staff in the Regional Chair’s Office as to avoid them undermining the professional staff throughout the corporation
  5. Adopt a formal hiring and performance appraisal process for the Chief Administrative Officer
  6. Adopt a by-law outlining the relationship between the CAO and Regional Council, including Council’s authority in setting compensation
  7. Ensure that the Region’s legal and human resources staff review all changes made to employment contracts before making changes

For his part, Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley was glad the matter had finally been put to bed.

“While the 2016 CAO hiring process, and the resulting fallout, will long be remembered as stain on the Region’s reputation, this term of council made it a top priority to take immediate action on this matter. As a team, we implemented all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations, ensuring we took every step necessary to prevent this type of controversy from occurring again,” said Bradley.

He added: “I want to thank Mr. Dubé, and his staff, for the exceptional report and recommendations, as well as their commitment to work with us as we implemented policies to make the Region more open, fair and transparent. The residents of Niagara deserved better, and these new policies and practices will help make sure we are living up to our constituents’ appropriately high expectations.”


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