Bullying, harassment still a problem within the RCMP, says federal report

A new investigation report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP has confirmed that harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation are still thriving within the national police force – and concluded that reform by the federal government is necessary to make lasting change.

Published on May 15, Report into Workplace Harassment in the RCMP was based on an examination of the workplace culture, policies and past investigations within the force. The report stated that the RCMP lacks both the will and the capacity to do what needs to be done to address occupational harassment and bullying.

“The time has come for the federal government to take responsibility to effect substantive changes to the organization by modernizing and civilianizing key aspects of the RCMP’s administrative management and oversight,” Commission chairperson Ian McPhail, Q.C. wrote in the report’s conclusion.

“The cultural transformation of the RCMP will not be brought about in a piecemeal fashion… Meaningful change will require sustained commitment from both the Minister of Public Safety and RCMP senior leadership, including instituting any necessary changes to the governance of the RCMP.”

In response to the report, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement saying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had given him a mandate to ensure that the RCMP was free from sexual harassment and violence.

“The issues identified come at a great cost – to the victims’ health and well-being, to the reputation and credibility of the RCMP and to all Canadians,” said Goodale. “The recommendations will be carefully reviewed and will inform further action to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful workplace.”

Among the report’s findings: the RCMP has failed to initiate comprehensive measures to deal with harassment; decision makers often consider irrelevant factors; lack of screening for harassment complaints may increase conflict; decision makers usually apply incorrect legal tests with prejudicial considerations; and decision makers receive inadequate training for harassment cases.

As a result, McPhail offered ten recommendations to deal with the situation, including a new leadership culture, a modernized governance structure, clearer harassment-policy documents, a simplified definition of harassment for investigation purposes and independent administrative investigators to deal with harassment complaints.

“We can and we must do better, as these reports make all too clear,” said Goodale, who thanked McPhail and others for their work and contributions.

“Workplace harassment, bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment can cause significant harm to individual RCMP members and employees, in some cases damaging careers and causing serious emotional and physical harm,” wrote McPhail.

“Responsibility now lies with the federal government to effect substantive change.”

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