On Monday, May 15, Michael Touw, the chief administrative officer (CAO) for the town of Perth posted the following message on the town’s website (perth.ca) and social media pages.
“To the members of our community,Michael Touw
While unusual for the CAO to directly communicate with you, I would like to appeal to you in light of recent and continuing events in the spirit of transparency and collaboration.
Town staff love our community and are proud to serve. Throughout the pandemic and beyond, we have worked hard to continue to maintain service levels with a high degree of professionalism. As pressures have continued despite the waning of the pandemic, there has been a noticeable and progressive shift in interactions between staff and the public.
In recent weeks and months, the amount of personal and antagonistic attacks made towards staff, both verbally and physically, has grown. Staff have the right to work in a safe, inclusive environment in both physical and digital spaces; and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
We ask that out of respect for our team’s mental and physical health, all interactions remain courteous. We are always open to engaging with our community and are committed to being transparent. Our strength as a community has always been in our heart. We have always banded together in good times and bad to support our neighbours. Kindness is key and will only help in our continued success as we work together, building a great community.”
Chief Administrative Officer
Town of Perth
When contacted by Hometown News, Touw stated that the number of angry confrontations between staff and the public had increased drastically over the last 6 months to a year and had reached the point of having ill effects on the staff who reported feeling threatened. He wouldn’t provide any details on the events but indicated they occurred in the town hall and outside, both in person and by phone. He said it was way beyond respectful. Comments posted on the town’s Facebook page in response to the CAO’s letter were unanimously supportive of staff and shocked by the negative public behavior that led to the publication.