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Union boss says N.L. government hasn’t asked for a meeting on contract talks


NAPE president Jerry Earle is pleased to see the provincial government has cut ties with communications consultant Cathy Dornan, but he questions what she was doing for the taxpayers in the first place.

Dornan was brought in by the government along with law firm McInnes Cooper to help with public sector contract negotiations back in April, and on Wednesday, the Department of Finance confirmed that she is no longer in the picture.

“As of the end of June, government determined that the remaining Communications work for collective bargaining would be completed internally. Government advised McInnes Cooper that external Communications resources would no longer be required,” an emailed statement from Finance Minister Cathy Bennett said.

A Department of Finance spokeswoman noted that the government did not directly employ Dornan; she was a subcontractor of McInnes-Cooper for communications services. 

NAPE has been filing access to information requests on how much the law firm and Dornan have been invoicing the government for, and they found that in June alone, Dornan was paid nearly $20,000.

“At a time we’re all being told to tighten our belts, it’s a difficult one to be able to validate,” Earle said.

“In every department, as I understand it, whether it be Justice, collective bargaining, the ministers’ offices, there is communications personnel — in some cases more than one.”

What’s more, Earle said the government hasn’t even requested a meeting with NAPE to start the collective bargaining process, and even when that happens, it will take a while to schedule it.

“We have 15 negotiating teams, with anywhere from three to seven people per team,” he said.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen in a couple weeks. Trying to get all those people to St. John’s at one time is a task in itself, because they’re from all over Newfoundland and Labrador and they work in our hospitals and our colleges and on our highways.”

While he’s happy that Dornan is gone, Earle still doesn’t see why the  government has McInnes Cooper working for them, given that there are quite a few lawyers in the civil service.

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