Parksville director Adam Fras wants the Regional District of Nanaimo to look how expenses can be reimbursed for those working from home.
At the executive committee meeting on May 24, Fras said in March 2020 the district took away reimbursement of internet expenses from municipal directors, despite having been forced to work at home due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s something that should be reconsidered and reinstated,” said Fras.
Electoral area directors do receive an internet allowance, which Fras said should be applied to all directors.
“We are all working under the same issue here working from home,” said Fras, who asked that staff bring forward a report on the current policy and how it can be reinstated to include municipal directors as well.
The committee endorsed Fras’s motion.
Fras said when he had to move his work home, he needed two devices that should be considered as added expenses.
Manager of human resources, Jim Tait, said these are issues that should be evaluated every four years by the consultant.
“That could be done, incorporated into the review,” said Tait.
Fras said the RDN should take immediate action and not have to wait for four years for a review.
“You saw COVID-19 come up,” said Fras. “No one was expecting it. It immediately affects us. We need to be more responsive so we can do our job as it shifts. I wouldn’t suggest we wait for review at four years or it’s too far gone we can’t do something about it. We can do it right now.”
Nanaimo director Tyler Brown indicated Fras’s request does not require a consultant review but is an inequity that needs to be addressed.
“Over the past couple of years, undoubtedly the internet has been required to do the job,” said Brown. “In some municipalities that expense was covered and it has been covered from day one. Unfortunately, in other municipalities it was done, but in director Fras’s case it was not covered in Parksville. I think that’s a burden and expense for director Fras that is not shared by 17 out of 19 directors. But it is explicitly a requirement to do his job that you attend virtually.”
Nanaimo director Erin Hemmens said it’s a simple fix and indicated a consultant review suggestion to be overkill.
“I don’t know that we need a report for an analysis if it truly is 17 out of 19 or whatever the number is I think that is something the RDN should provide,” Hemmens said.