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Edmonton councillor calls allegations of abuse 'troubling,' apologizes to former workers

On Friday, Postmedia acquired an emailed letter from Rice’s workplace responding to the abuse allegations, 4 days after they had been first revealed

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Edmonton metropolis Coun. Jennifer Rice has responded to allegations made by 5 former staffers, apologizing and saying she shall be taking office coaching, however claiming that she has been portrayed inaccurately.

On Friday, Postmedia acquired an emailed letter from Rice’s workplace responding to the abuse allegations, 4 days after they had been first revealed by Postmedia. The ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi councillor apologized to former staffers who “didn’t have employment expertise” in her workplace. 

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“I’m not an ideal individual and there was a studying curve in my first time period on council,” stated Rice in her letter. “I take this matter very severely.”

“I’m saddened to study via these information articles that some individuals felt they didn’t have employment expertise, and if that is their notion, I’m sincerely sorry. I’m within the course of of constructing preparations to have interaction in office coaching and can invite my present workers to attend.”

Postmedia spoke to 5 individuals who beforehand labored for Rice at completely different factors throughout her two-year council tenure and others inside metropolis corridor. They describe working with an employer who belittles, yells and makes unrealistic calls for, who’s overly preoccupied together with her public picture, and who lashes out at workers for her personal struggles to stability her duties as a metropolis councillor. 

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In an audio recording obtained and verified by Postmedia, two assistants accuse Rice of yelling or elevating her voice earlier that day, on different events, and through the assembly. All through the 27-minute assembly, Rice signifies she expects her subordinates to inform her if she is yelling as a result of it’s unintentional. Rice is heard berating one worker within the presence of one other.

In her assertion Friday, Rice pointed to her background as a Chinese language immigrant the place talking loudly is a “cultural trait as my first language entails many various tones.” She stated since coming to Canada her English has improved, however “it isn’t all the time excellent.”

“I really feel the way in which I’ve been portrayed in latest media reviews is inaccurate,” stated Rice.

Earlier in November, Postmedia reached out to talk with Rice in regards to the allegations, nonetheless, she declined an interview.

On Nov. 23, Postmedia introduced Rice with an inventory of particular allegations made by workers. In an e-mail assertion to Postmedia on Nov. 24, Rice didn’t reply particular allegations however stated, “I’ve had great workers who’ve made many optimistic contributions.”

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Learn extra

Hostile work setting’: Former workers accuse Edmonton metropolis councillor of bullying amid excessive workplace turnover

• Keith Gerein: Edmonton Coun. Jennifer Rice has nobody accountable however herself for her failures in workplace

Audio recording of Edmonton councillor Rice’s argument with workers reveals turmoil in workplace

• Edmonton mayor ‘deeply involved’ about bullying allegations in opposition to councillor Rice

Metropolis figures present 19 individuals have labored for Rice since she was elected in 2021 — 13 individuals had been employed on contract and three labored as summer season interns. Three administrative metropolis workers additionally labored for Rice. No different councillor has labored with greater than six staff, excluding interns, in that point.

In response to the excessive turnover in her workplace, Rice stated a few of her workers members embrace short-term assist workers who’re employed beneath contract. Others are informal or summer season college students. Rice didn’t specify whether or not the previous staffers who alleged abuse had been full-time or contract employees.

“I’ve loved working with some excellent workers however I’m unable to offer extra detailed info as a result of that might violate their privateness,” stated Rice.

Rice stated she ran for workplace to make a “optimistic distinction” within the metropolis she loves and dedicated to proceed her work to characterize these in her ward. She concluded her letter by saying this would be the remaining time she is commenting on the allegations.

“I need to assist make Edmonton a greater and extra lovely metropolis for all its residents and guests — from these experiencing homelessness to our wealth creators. I’ll proceed to work tirelessly to characterize individuals in Ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi and endeavour to maintain prices down for all Edmonton residents.”

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With information from Lauren Boothby

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