SEGUIN TWP. – The Seguin Library has the requested health and safety documentation ready to send to the Ministry of Labour.
While that hurdle is being overcome, the library board has also accepted the resignation of its newly hired head librarian, Arvind Singh.
The Ministry of Labour was called in to the Foley Library after two break-ins earlier this summer and a man’s alleged inappropriate use of the Internet in July raised concerns for the safety of both library staff and patrons. The ministry was called on August 13 about the board not having a workplace harassment/violence policy, inadequate emergency protocols and inaccessible emergency exits, said ministry spokesperson Matt Blager.
According to Singh, the library board had the policies in place at the time of the ministry inspection, but didn’t have them posted. The policies were reviewed by the board to ensure they met government regulations last week and are now ready for submission ahead of the September 12 deadline and to be posted.
Also, said Singh, library staff members were trained on workplace violence and harassment in 2011.
Singh has also proposed that the board appoint two staff members as health and safety representatives and recommended increased lighting, installing badge access, installing panic buttons, removing cash, and putting in video cameras.
“While we cannot put a price on health and safety, the expense of measures will be calculated based upon recommendations made by a comprehensive audit of sites, or as an alternative full internal assessment of risks,” wrote Singh in an August report to the board. “The CEO advises the board to strike a balance between safety and accessibility of facilities. Safety and investment in it must be considered in terms of short-term, medium range and long-term plans for facilities. For example, the Foley Library would likely be housed in a new building in a few years.”
The handling of the health and safety concerns of staff and patrons by the board faced criticism as too slow, including criticism from the Friends of the Foley Library, and prompted staff resignations.
In a letter to the editor, Friends of the Foley Library chair Paul Scott highlighted how former librarian Nadine Trienstra had taken initiatives to make the library safer.
“At no time has the library board or township offered or provided any support, suggestions or additional security for the safety of the staff and patrons of the Foley Branch Library. The township did however add a dead bolt to one of the doors, which however, was at the request of the librarian and certainly not from any initiative from the library board or township,” wrote Scott.
The board has hired Karen Bethune to take over the vacant position at the Christie branch and Robert Bockstael at the Foley library with the librarians’ resignations.
Singh himself tendered his resignation effective no later than October 31, citing health concerns. He started in the position May 1.
Coun. Jake Hepworth announced Singh’s decision to council on August 27.
“I do this with a great amount of remorse,” he said. “I know exactly the stress this has caused him.”