Presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
Delivered by Ian McPhail, Interim Chair of the CPC
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Madame Chair, Honourable Senators, thank you for the opportunity to share with the Committee the results of the Commission's investigation into workplace harassment in the RCMP.
You will recall, in the fall of 2011, several RCMP members, most of them female, came forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment – which raised questions in the minds of Canadians.
Given how fundamentally important public support is to the ability of the police to carry out their duties and responsibilities, I believed it was necessary to initiate a complaint and public interest investigation into the conduct of RCMP members regarding the handling of allegations of harassment in the workplace.
The investigation examined:
- the adherence to RCMP policies and procedures;
- the adequacy of those policies;
- the thoroughness and impartiality of harassment investigations;
- as well as harassment-related training.
In total, the Commission reviewed 718 harassment complaints filed between 2006 and 2011. Overwhelmingly, the problem we found was with abuse of authority – in other words, bullying.
The investigation also revealed that most of the alleged harassment occurred between RCMP members. Over 60% of complainants and 70% of respondents were uniformed police officers. The gender breakdown of complainants was virtually half male and half female, while respondents were predominantly male.
The Commission's review also found that most of the harassment complaints were dealt with in accordance with the RCMP's harassment policy. However, that policy was capable of being interpreted in a number of ways, which resulted in it being inconsistent application.
That being said, the investigation also revealed that workplace conflict and harassment in the RCMP does exist.
As such, the report urged the Force to take a number of concrete and measurable steps to improve its handling of workplace conflict and harassment allegations, including:
- revising the harassment policy to be more inclusive;
- instituting a system of centralized monitoring and coordination of harassment complaints, outside of the divisional chains of command; and
- establishing an external mechanism for review of harassment decisions, separate from, but not exclusive of, the RCMP's labour relations process.
The Commission also recommended that the RCMP develop a comprehensive method to evaluate respectful workplace efforts that is both measurable and quantifiable, and that the evaluation results be made public. All of this is intended to enhance transparency of the process.
Although the empirical data presented to the Commission did not support the widely-held belief that the RCMP has a systemic issue with sexual harassment, there is no proof to the contrary. And only if you have what RCMP members themselves see as a fair, open, transparent and expeditious process, will people be more comfortable in stepping forward.
Harassment is a complex problem requiring a complex solution. Policy statements and written procedures are not enough to address the issue. There must be intent on the part of the RCMP to cultivate a more respectful workplace. And that intent needs to be followed-up with actions.
I am hopeful that the Commission's investigation will help inform the RCMP in its efforts and further build on the Commissioner's recently released gender and respect action plan.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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