8 Tuesday May 19 2015 By MEAGAN WOHLBERG Premier-designate Rachel Notley ordered all departments to immediately stop shred- ding documents last week just hours after a joint investigation was launched into the destruction of records by the ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development ERSD. At the request of the premier designate the deputy minister of executive council has directed all departments to stop shredding until the new government assumes ofce reads the statement issued by Notleys ofce on Wednesday afternoon. The directive came shortly after the an- nouncement of an ofcial investigation during a joint press conference held by the provinces public interest and privacy com- missioners after receiving complaints that allege the improper destruction of records by ERSD. Letters and even social media posts have expressed concern about the shredding of government les since the NDP won the election on May 5 ending a 44-year Pro- gressive Conservative reign in the province. Were aware of the concerns both on social media and in traditional media. In response to that weve certainly been in touch with information management branch to nd out what sorts of instructions have been provided to staff with regard to the destruction of records and at the same time in the statement that my ofce put out last week we talked about if anyone had any evidence of any unlawful destruction of records to contact the ofce Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton said at the media conference held with Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan. Though the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act FOIP does not apply to the personal records of ministers or MLAs correspondence with their constituents Clayton said it does apply to departmental and cabinet records. Under the FOIP act it is in offense to willfully destroy records to evade an access request she said. So if we nd out through the course of this investigation that records have been willfully destroyed to evade a request for access then...we will carry that through and look to prosecute. The ne in that case is 10000. In order to prosecute Clayton said it would have to be proved the destruction was intentional which is a challenge. She said the two ofces will be able to approach IT people to attain original documents and can compel departments to produce records. Any good records management program should include documenting the destruc- tion of records and issuing certicates of destruction so we know exactly what was destroyed so well be looking at that Clayton said. Even if the allegations do not end in a discoverable offence Clayton said the in- vestigation will have other benets. I think its an opportunity to educate government departments. I think its an op- portunity to perhaps reassure the public that we are taking a look at the concerns. The fact that we are investigating might serve to encourage others who have evidence to come forward she said. Notley orders end to government shredding as investigation launched POLITICS PROVINCIAL By MEAGAN WOHLBERG The Town of Hay River will be hiring local contractors during the strike this summer to maintain its public spaces and playgrounds Mayor Andrew Cassidy an- nounced last week. The town will be using contractors on an as-and-when needed basis to conduct safety inspections of playground equipment and provide groundskeeping services in public spaces over the summer despite the ongoing labour dispute. As community members and visitors begin utilizing our summer elds and parks our town council is taking steps to ensure the safety of equipment and cleanliness of the outdoor recreation spaces Cassidy said in a statement issued last Monday. We feel it is important that the youth of our community have the opportunity to play in a safe and enjoyable environment free from dangerous debris and faulty equipment. Cassidy told The Journal the eld mainte- nance is not considered an essential service which is why it has to be contracted out. He said its an issue of public safety and possible liability for the town. We have a signicant liability regarding our parks and outdoor facilities and we need to ensure through due diligence and safety inspectionspreventative maintenance the safety of our equipment is maintained at the highest standard Cassidy said. Our outdoor facilities see a signicant amount of use during the summer months by local residents and visitors alike and we intend to provide the level of service that is expected of our town. The union responded last Tuesday af- ternoon accusing the town of heightening tensions and prolonging the strike by hiring scab workers. These announcements push this dispute to new heights said Union of Northern Workers vice president Gayla Thunstrom. Hay River to contract maintenance staff during strike Union accuses town of using scab labour prolonging strike We cannot allow scabs to take our mem- bers work. Town-run summer camps cancelled Though the municipality will be main- taining its playgrounds kids will have to look elsewhere for summer programming this year. Cassidy said the Summer Heat camps normally put on by the town have been cancelled due to the strike and is advising the public look to make alternate plans this summer. Regarding the summer camps we will be leaving it up to the private sector to step in with programming Cassidy said though the town will not be recommending any in particular. The camp program usually sees participa- tion from around 60 children in the com- munity. Various groups in town have already announced they will be providing summer programming in the absence of the camps this year. ButThunstrom said if the town was serious about providing opportunities for children this summer it would have agreed to binding third-party arbitration as was requested by the union last month after a third round of negotiations failed. We must not see this program cancelled when arbitration can provide an immediate solution she said. This strike has caused enough division and anger in Hay River. Lets agree to disagree and let an arbitrator sort it out. Cassidy said the town remains committed to ending the strike through negotiations and is willing to head back to the bargaining table at any point. Workers have been on strike for three and a half months over an impasse on wage increases with the town. Much of the towns recreational programming has had to be cancelled since the strike began in February closing its arena and pool. POLITICS LABOUR PhotoDaliCarmichael PhotoWikipediaCommons A joint investigation has been launched into record shredding during the post-election transition period in Alberta. Signs erected by striking workers stand along the highway near Hay River where the union established its virtual picket line last week outside of the Katlodeeche First Nation reserve the site of recent NWT Association of Communities meetings.