Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
A decision by council to not hire a permanent full-time accessibility coordinator for the County of Perth is being criticized by a member of the committee that made the recommendation.
The county’s accessibility advisory committee argued a full-time employee was needed not only to keep up with the changes to Ontario’s accessibility standards but limit turnover in the position, which has been filled by three individuals since it was created by the county in June of 2009.
The most recent coordinator, Mary Anne Melanson, was hired on a two-year contract in October 2011 but resigned from the job in August after finding a permanent full-time position elsewhere.
But rather than support the recommendation, council opted to stay the course, and approved a three-year contract position. Some councillors and the CAO tried to argue there will be more than enough work over the next couple of years to support a full-time staff member. Others, however, felt the accessibility duties could be shared internally.
“As a committee representative, I would like to express my displeasure at this decision,” Judy Givens, a committee member for North Perth, wrote in a letter to the county dated Sept. 30.
Without a coordinator the committee is in limbo, she added, and can’t properly address the questions and enquires that are coming in from businesses with regards to the new accessibility standards for customers service.
“Offering this position as full-time rather than contract would attract more qualified individuals and also would ensure stability in this position and provide us with much needed direction and advice,” Givens wrote.
It was noted at last week’s council meeting the county has hired an individual for the contract position who will begin Oct. 29.
But with just over a month until the new customer service standards are fully adopted, Warden Ian Forrest questioned whether the individual would have time to complete the necessary work.
“I’m not sure if this is still possible given the time frame,” he said, “but at least we’ve got someone working on it, which is better than we’ve had.”