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LETTER: Conservation Authority's former HR director asks for gov't investigation into troubled organization

'I am asking that the Minister appoint one or more investigators to investigate the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) operations, administration, and Board of Directors conduct and cover-up of their own mistakes'
Staff at the Conservation Authority walked out to protest a toxic work environment

Editor's note: Mr. Bremer writes this as an open letter to the Honorable Graydon Smith Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Honourable Drew Vanderduim Deputy Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.


Dear Sirs:

I am writing to the Minister’s attention with grave concerns I have regarding the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority, CAO, Deputy CAOs, Board, leadership, and management of the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority that is seriously impacting the operations of NBMCA and delivery of programs and services to taxpayers.

I was hired at NBMCA on Monday, March 4, 2024, as the Director of Corporate Services, Human Resources and Labour Relations. 

I have 32+ years of experience in senior Human Resources and Labour Relations management, and what I have witnessed here is putting the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) in serious jeopardy, and the team has already hit rock bottom. 

It quickly became apparent that I was walking into an organization with severe staff-management problems. 

I have given the Board Chair three warnings about the problems, but the Board of Directors has taken no action to solve these serious issues or at least to take the time and speak to the team.  I strongly believe the Board of Directors (BOD) is not going to take the steps to change the present situation that started in 2022 and has been getting worse for the past 7 months. 

I strongly believe, it is not fair at all for taxpayers to pay for anyone’s incompetence or lack of leadership, lack of management skill set, and basically, I will say lack of humanity.  It is not fair for staff members to work in such a toxic workplace, afraid for their jobs, coming to work medicated, with unclear direction. It is a place managed by micromanagement, lack of communication between management and staff members, misinformation, control, secretiveness, constructive dismissals, favouritism, and harassment. I'll describe it as “true insanity.”

In addition, land was recently sold, and funds will cover legal fees and settlements as the result of poor leadership and lack of management skills. There are many issues and management is very concerned about the legal expenses which increased significantly because of unionization, settlements, and lawsuits against the NBMCA.

For the first time in NBMCA’s 50+ year history, staff members have voted for a union which, after a six-month delay by NBMCA, has begun negotiations with staff hoping that they would finally have someone to listen to their concerns and help protect them in the workplace.  There are several workplace harassment claims and Ontario Human Rights Commission complaints.  The Ministry of Labour is investigating and has an order in place regarding NBMCA’s Harassment Policies, which still must be addressed. I have attached several supporting documents and a few links to articles published in North Bay by the media which will describe this situation better than I can describe in my own words.

In addition, the staff members walked out from their office during their coffee break for 15 minutes in silent protest of the disastrous situation NBMCA is in after 50 years because of the reasons already stated above.

Because of everything described, I submitted my resignation effective Friday, April 26, 2024.

I am asking that the Minister, in accordance with the Conservation Authorities Act, appoint one or more investigators to investigate the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) operations, administration, and Board of Director's conduct and cover-up of their own mistakes including the leadership of the CAO, and Deputy CAOs as well as the Board of Directors, in particular the Executive and the Human Resources Committee.

I am asking that the Minister consider appointing an administrator in place to oversee the operations and management of NBMCA until the investigation is completed, as well as with consideration to appoint an administrator in place, with the goal of remedying the failings at NBMCA and setting it back on course.


Mark Bremer CPHRR, MILR, BAA

Former Director Corporate Services, Human Resources, and Labour Relations

North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA)