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More Questions than Answers-Former Victim Services Program Manager looks for Explanation in Being Let Go

Encouragement from friends and family saying his abrupt termination as Program Manager with Victim Services in Williams Lake as ‘not right’ has Mick Howell going public.

Howell says he is looking for information on why he was let go on July 17th.

“You know to be honest it all depends on this all came down and that’s what I’ve been trying to find out through the Freedom of Information so I’m still waiting for a response from the City for on actually getting that information.”

Howell’s daughter Aleasha Curtis, says they very much much feel that there was a conflict of interest and says both her dad and mom worked for Williams Lake Rental which is owned and operated by the spouse of a Williams Lake Councillor.

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“They had to leave their job because my mom wasn’t doing well health-wise and when she quit she gave two months notice and the company wanted them out within a month which wasn’t a problem, so he (Mick) took time off from the City,” Aleasha said.

“He came back from vacation after that and he was terminated less than a week later and they ended up having to fight with the company to even get their basic wages from them.”

Curtis says Mick was told that he was let go for ‘operational reasons’ which does not make sense as the other victim service worker has less experience and qualifications.

Howell had been working for the City for almost 7 years and says none of the stakeholders were consulted in the decision.

“The RCMP wasn’t consulted, Crown Counsel, the Ministry of Children and Family Development were not consulted, none of the people that we work with were consulted.”

Curtis says they feel there might also have been a conflict of with Mayor Walt Cobb.

Mayor Walt Cobb says Council and himself do not look after personnel issues and that the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Darell Garceau does.

“I had nothing to do with it; it’s a personnel issue,” Cobb said.

“You’ll have to talk to Darrell about that because Darrell is the person that we hire to look after the staff, and we don’t get involved with the layoffs, or, firing, or anything like that. We’re only allowed to deal with the management end of it.”

Garceau said on Tuesday although he is not at liberty to disclose information to personnel matters, Mayor and Council had no involvement in Howell’s termination.

“Mr. Howell was in a contract position with the City and it’s unfortunate that he was removed from his position but in terms of conflict of interest, I don’t have a conflict of interest. It’s my responsibility to oversee the employee group whether it’s union or non-union or a contract position. The Mayor or neither of the City Councillors were involved in that decision.”

Garceau says there are three programs (RCMP, Community, and First Nation based) within Victim Services that work within the community and that the City is taking a look at all three.

He says they are anticipating to have a meeting with the Ministry of Justice to ensure all three programs are delivering the best possible service and that there was a review back in 2011.

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