Eesti Elu
Ehatare and Rob Ford (11)
Arvamus 16 Mar 2012 Ingrid TannerEesti Elu
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(N.B. Any opinion expressed in a letter to the editor is solely that of the letter’s author. The accuracy of information is also solely the responsibility of the author. Letters to the editor are unsolicited and not edited by Estonian Life. – Ed.)

What about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Ehatare? No there are no new incentives being offered by Mr. Ford to Ehatare (Retirement and Nursing Home, in Toronto). The link between the two is how Rob Ford arranged for a person (TTC chief general manager Gary Webster) to be terminated “NOT FOR CAUSE” because he did not want to make the effort of working WITH someone that had differing views from him. When that story hit the headlines I immediately thought of Rosemarie Lindau, the former Activity Director at Ehatare, and Ruth Macfarlane, Ehatare administrator. It was so uncanny how the two events seem to mirror each other. The more I pondered it the more I realized that the supporters and opposition in Rob Ford’s case will have an open forum via the media to openly discuss their views. The media outlets are happy to have something this polarizing to discuss – encouraging discussion… and perhaps prodding people to take a stance; eliminating complacency.

Sadly, for Rosemarie Lindau, the discussions over her “not for cause” termination (by the administrator and Board at Ehatare) is NOT being discussed. Yes, there was a flurry of activity when word of her termination hit our community. There were a few articles and blog posts that showed a real divide within the Estonian community. There was an on-line campaign “Ehatare needs Rosie” with almost 500 supporters who signed up… there was even a petition signed by the majority of residents of Ehatare who were also asking for Ruth to bring Rosemarie back.

Due to the lack of media coverage it might appear that nothing has happened. But that is truly not the case. There is still tension between the factions of those who support Rosie and those who support Ruth. A mediator should have been used to decide if the firing of Rosemarie Lindau was justified.

I now realize, it would not have helped. Just like Rob Ford got rid of his non-supporters by having them fired WITHOUT CAUSE - so was the case with Rosie also.

No mediator would find common ground when the goal was to terminate her without cause.

We should respect the board for not speaking out about this as there is some honour in the board supporting Ruth Macfarlane. Going forward when our elders and the community have become divided over this issue, the board’s firm stance no longer makes any sense. This issue continues to be divisive for our Estonian community. The residents of Ehatare still miss Rosie. I have heard from residents that a recent survey of Ehatare residents again requested her return! This screams volumes since seniors don’t like changes from that which is familiar! My own mother is a prime example of a senior who always fears if she complains her care will be affected. Thus, at the very least the voices of the residents should be listened to!!

Many applied to become members of the Estonian Relief Committee (Ehatare is owned and operated by the Estonian Relief Committee in Canada) after Rosie’s abrupt termination in June 2011 and our calls, emails and pleas to the board to deal with her termination in a more open and fair manner fell on deaf ears. Many months went by and none of us heard from the board. Applications had historically been processed in two weeks. Now many months passed by with no word from the committee. Later I heard that they had never had so many applications to join at one time. There was probably a fear that the new members might have majority vote in the non-profit organization. Would this mean that the current board might lose their LONG STANDING positions on the board?

In case you are not aware, many of the board members have been on the board for more than 15 years.
So you can imagine my recent surprise when a letter and a new application form from the Estonian Relief Committee arrived. Not only was there a condition to be able to join, there were conditions that would clearly make one not acceptable to join.

For example:
To join:

  • Some sort of previous commitment to the Estonian community

You cannot join if:
  • If you have worked or are related to a person who has worked at Ehatare in the last 3 years

  • If you have a mental illness

  • If you have written or said anything negative about the Estonian Relief Committee (ERC)

The new criteria seems like protectionism. Fear of being voted off the board by the throngs of new volunteers eager to join.
This sounds like a DICTATORSHIP! You can join us if you toe the line with us. Somewhat like what Mayor Ford has done?
As for Rosemarie Lindau, the question remains as to what really happened. Rosie constantly encouraged people to volunteer at Ehatare, she wrote articles in the Estonian newspaper for the community to become involved in the activities at Ehatare and finally when she wrote a heartfelt note to the residents and asked them to understand how difficult it was for her to reduce their activities due to her growing workload - she was fired!

My suggestions are as follows:
1. If you have a family member or friend at Ehatare who has experienced the care and dedication that Rosie gave them you should write a letter of recommendation for her. She will need that for a new job!
2. Donate to her legal team!!

Sadly, any compensation that Rosie will get via her legal advice will come out of the monies that have been donated to the Estonian Relief Committee in Canada, Ehatare and their insurers. Surely, their insurance and legal expenses will take a big bite out of their reserves.

Finally, let’s eliminate complacency in our community. Join the clubs and organizations that were started when we were young and lend a hand and some support. Perhaps if we get involved now we can stop any future scandals such as this, occurring in our community.
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