Friday, December 22, 2006
I really don't mean to harp on this subject but I need to explain the fact that the health inspectors who are keeping us from opening are making a judgment call rather than abiding by any clear set regulations. The first health inspector I spoke to (let's call her "AJ") initially told me we would not need to build a washroom in the store. We went ahead and ordered espresso equipment. She later tells me that what she meant by you don't need a washroom is that we don't need a customer washroom since we will only be selling take-out, but, we do need to build a STAFF washroom. I tell AJ we already have a washroom conveniently located directly adjacent to the store in the very same building. She says that it is her supervisor making these demands, gives me a completely unrealistic scenario about us selling our business separate from our living quarters, and suggests talking to the town office. I do everything I'm told, none of it matters. I ask to speak to her supervisor (let's call her "Nina"). Nina and I have a very unpleasant conversation. She takes the "rules are rules" tone and basically says it was my responsibility to read the handbooks sent to me in the mail. But I did read them. Most of the rules are in regards to CUSTOMER washrooms, which we are still being told we don't need. This is all that it has to say about STAFF washrooms "public eating establishments are required to provide conveniently located washroom facilities for employees." Our washroom is very conveniently located. The only information given specifically in regards to a take-out facility is listed under "Washroom Requirements in Malls" where it says you must provide "any washroom, public or staff, located anywhere in the mall". So a mall can have a staff washroom ANYWHERE in the building but we are not allowed to have our staff washroom (for the staff of us, well, mostly me) located in the same building two steps from our work environment. Nina said that her primary issue is that in two years she imagines we'll have hired 5 or 6 staff and that we won't want them "traipsing through our home”. For one thing, this is rural Saskatchewan, we'll be extremely lucky if our business does well enough to allow Tyler to stay and work at home rather than have to drive to Saskatoon for supplemental income. Secondly, there will be no "traipsing” through our home since the washroom is two steps away from the back door of the shop. Thirdly, if the issue ever arose, which it won't, I would gladly allow any staff to use our home washroom - this is Bruno - I would let customers use our home washroom if they needed to. Fourthly and finally, I would very happily promise to inform the health inspector if I did hire staff and then we could revisit this whole matter! My conversation with Nina went nowhere. It ended with me hanging up the phone in tears. It is a documented fact that people are leaving rural Saskatchewan in record numbers. I now understand why our shop had been sitting empty for years. I totally recognize the need for health codes but this particular issue affects no-one's health in any way, except for my mental health that is.