Coronavirus: Winnipeg firehall retirement party investigation ongoing, union says

City hall held a disciplinary hearing Friday for an unknown number of Winnipeg firefighters who took part in a late April retirement party that broke coronavirus physical-distancing protocols and the provincial ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, Global News can confirm.

The city will interview at least two more Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service employees alleged to have taken part in the unsanctioned retirement party on May 25, the head of the city’s firefighter union, Alex Forrest, said.

Earlier this week, the city said the matter had been dealt with and the investigation was over.

“The investigation has concluded and appropriate action has been determined,” a city communications staffer wrote in an email Wednesday. The staffer also noted that the city took the alleged party seriously.

Friday morning, Global requested an interview with a member of WFPS’s top brass and clarification on whether the investigation had already concluded as the mayor, emergency management boss and communications staff had said.

The city communications department did not address the request for an interview and repeated that the investigation was complete in an afternoon email.

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A city communications staffer said there will be meetings between employees, management and the union about the punitive actions in the coming days and again refused comment on what those actions will entail.

The union boss said the city still plans to conduct two interviews, which he characterized as “investigative,” in the coming days.

Mayor Brian Bowman and emergency management boss WFPS Asst. Chief Jay Shaw declined further comment when pressed on the investigation at a Wednesday press conference on the city’s COVID-19 response.

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