Major changes needed: Watchdog
Bullying, harassment thrive at RCMP, commission says in calling for major reforms
Bullying and harassment remain serious problems within the RCMP and only major changes to the way the police force is run will make a difference, says a national watchdog.
In a report Monday, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacks both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.
The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.
A second federal report released Monday, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.
In a statement, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said both reports describe “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and will “inform further action” to ensure the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.
Goodale ordered the complaints commission report to see if the RCMP had properly acted on commission recommendations made in 2013. At the time, the watchdog said the
Mounties must take swift and effective action to reassure both members and the public.
The RCMP introduced new harassment policies and processes in 2014 aimed at promptly dealing with workplace conflict before it escalates.
The latest report, however,
said the vast majority of complaints under the new policies involved allegations that managers abused their authority. These included accusations of abusive language, such as “you’re dirt,” “people here don’t like you” and “nobody wants to work with you.”
Others complained of being berated in public, punitive transfers or having leave arbitrarily denied.
“Organizational dysfunction in the RCMP has been well documented and the commission’s current investigation confirmed that the problems of workplace bullying and harassment persist,” the report said.
The commission found that while senior leaders in the RCMP have made efforts to prevent harassment –particularly at the divisional level – these initiatives have been limited and ad hoc and have not received the necessary support from headquarters.
“There has been no effort by national headquarters to monitor their effectiveness, roll out best practices, or institutionalize reform,” the report said.
Incidents of harassment – sometimes extending over months or years – can have serious professional consequences and can cause real emotional and physical harm, the watchdog added. In turn, this may affect the operational effectiveness of the RCMP.
“Dealing with harassment is a complicated and nuanced activity,” commission counsel Emma Phillips told a news conference Monday. “It requires a nuanced approach.”