Results and Respect in the RCMP Workplace

When appointed as RCMP Commissioner in late 2011, I was unequivocal in my pledge to transform the RCMP culture by focusing on accountability, leadership and addressing claims of harassment and bullying within the organization.

One of the drivers in fulfilling this commitment was completing the 2012 Gender-Based Assessment (GBA) to determine whether recruitment and promotion policies were gender neutral, and whether they provided equal opportunities for female regular members (RMs).

The results of the assessment demonstrated that there were things we were doing right, such as gender-neutral internal policies, while other areas needed attention including the degree of supervisor support our female RMs received when applying for promotion, and our ability to retain women beyond 20 years of service.

I encourage you to review the full Gender-Based Assessment on our website.

Parallel to the GBA, the RCMP looked to address gaps in our grievance and discipline processes, and in how we handled harassment and conduct complaints. The existing processes were overly legalistic, formalistic, adversarial and plagued with delays.

Building on the GBA and updating the RCMP discipline and grievance system, in 2013 we developed the Gender and Respect Action Plan (GRAP) which outlined a number of ways we could create a more inclusive and respectful organization. The GRAP included initiatives to address work-life balance, such as backfilling RMs on parental leave, and set specific goals for the composition of the RM workforce to reflect 30% women, 20% visible minorities and 10% Indigenous by 2025.

We then established new national processes and programs to support a respectful and inclusive workplace. They include our peer-to-peer program, a mental health strategy and action plan, respectful workplace training, informal conflict management program, violence prevention policy and a centralized office for the coordination of harassment complaints, to name a few.

Some of the results we have achieved thus far are outlined in the following pages. While there is still work to do, change to the workplace, particularly cultural change, does not happen overnight, over a year, or even over five years. Culture change occurs over a generation.

The purpose of this document is to reassure and demonstrate to Canadians that purposeful and deliberate systems and processes have been deployed to change the inner workings – the guts of the organization as I've called it – in order to foster the culture change we are all seeking. It cannot simply be seen or understood to be the very public airing of harassment complaints….it is far greater than that . . . innovation, transparency in decision-making, inclusiveness, diversity and operational effectiveness consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are all elements of the professional RCMP of today and tomorrow.

Our organization has the unique opportunity to interact directly with thousands of Canadians on a daily basis. Those interactions, whether positive or difficult in nature, are how we as an organization are able to deliver our policing mandate to communities.

These interactions are also a reminder that in order to be effective, RCMP employees also rely on the support and trust of each other. We recognize that people around the world view our organization as a symbol of Canada's values and traditions. We take pride in this honour and strive to ensure that our actions -- whether within our own walls or on the frontline -- are reflective of the responsibility conferred on our organization.

Bob Paulson
RCMP Commissioner

Legislative Reform

November 28, 2014, was a historic date for the RCMP, with the coming into force of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act: the first extensive set of amendments to the RCMP Act in almost 30 years. Taken as a whole, these changes provide RCMP leaders with enhanced authorities to address inappropriate behaviour in a fair, consistent, timely and comprehensive manner. At the same time, the RCMP has shared responsibilities and obligations of employees at all levels and categories throughout the organization via:

  • new codes of conduct;
  • mandatory training; and
  • an internal communications plan.

The legislation also established a new Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, which has broad authorities to review information to address public complaints, as well as to generate internal reviews of concerning issues.

In addition, the RCMP's Professional Responsibility Officer introduced a Professional Ethics and Integrity commendation as another means to recognize employees who uphold high ethical standards and conduct themselves with integrity. This commendation forms part of an extensive Professional Ethics Strategic Plan, which also includes enhanced ethics education, awareness and access to the disclosure process under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

Organizational Reform

Legislation alone was unable to address the cultural challenges faced by the RCMP. The organization needed to reexamine the workplace programs offered to ensure they provided employees with an inclusive workplace that respects its people and gives them a sense of belonging and an understanding of how they contribute to the RCMP's mandate.

Highlighted are a number of activities the RCMP has introduced, since 2011, at both the national and local levels.

National

The RCMP established national processes and programs to support a respectful and inclusive workplace, including:

  • A Peer-to-Peer system providing assistance in managing personal and work-related issues that has over 250 employee volunteers nationally.
  • An Informal Conflict Management Program that has conducted over 460 training sessions and 1,900 intervention services since its launch in June 2014.
  • Health Canada's Employee Assistance Services, providing 24/7 access to a crisis and referral centre and professional counselors nationally.
  • A new violence prevention policy and respectful workplace training, which 98% of employees have completed as of December 2015.

Another essential component of the RCMP organization reform was the 2014 launch of the RCMP Mental Health Strategy (2014-2019) and Action Plan. It is based on clinical experience, the Mental Health Commission of Canada's voluntary standards for psychological health and safety in the workplace, and the RCMP's reality as a policing organization with many employees exposed to traumatic events on the job. The strategy is designed to improve awareness and use of mental health policies, programs and services. It also highlights the critical role of leaders to be proactive and supportive in addressing mental health issues their employees may experience.

The RCMP launched a robust awareness campaign to promote the strategy and created a Mental Health Toolkit to help managers address issues in the workplace. The toolkit includes information on taking action when warning signs appear, managing mental illness in the workplace, taking appropriate steps while an employee is off for mental health-related reasons, and facilitating their return to work.

Another key national initiative was the RCMP's adaptation of the Canadian Forces Road to Mental Readiness Program. The evidence-based program gets people talking about mental health challenges, and increases employee resilience by providing tools to help reduce the effects of stressful situations. In late 2015, the mandatory workshops for employees and leaders rolled out nationally after the completion of successful pilot testing. To date, one hundred trained facilitators are delivering the initiative.

You can learn more about mental health services available to RCMP employees on our website.

Across Canada

Creating a respectful and healthy workplace has been a priority for RCMP commanding officers in each province and territory.

RCMP detachments maintain annual performance plans to support organizational priorities. In 2015/2016 alone, RCMP detachments incorporated 249 initiatives related to respectful workplace into their plans.

To date, eight RCMP divisions developed employee advisory committees to provide an unfiltered forum for discussion between senior management and employees.

Topics discussed include:

  • staffing;
  • labour relations;
  • diversity; and
  • improving communication.

Respectful workplace coordinators and advisors -- who serve as points of contact for employees experiencing disrespectful behaviour in the workplace -- share best practices across the country.

Recognizing the geographic and workload challenges employees face in finding opportunities to participate in face-to-face discussions, divisions use video messaging and live chats to personally communicate workplace health messages to employees.

The RCMP is also focusing on early conflict management and resolution practices as part of leadership development. Training opportunities for managers and employees to increase their awareness of mental health, diversity, and violence/harassment prevention are available in divisions across the country in addition to those opportunities offered at a national level.

As well, many divisions have established formal and informal recognition opportunities for those employees who have demonstrated leadership in advancing respectful and healthy workplace initiatives. For example, in 2015, the RCMP in Quebec (C Division) received the Distinction Award in the psychological health category granted by the Groupe Entreprises en santé. This award acknowledged the RCMP in Quebec's initiatives to improve the physical and mental health of its employees.

Results

As a result of these initiatives, the RCMP is seeing positive change to its culture and workplace health.

Data from the most recent Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) in 2014 indicated that 93% of RCMP employees said they have a positive working relationship with their co-workers, and that we are creating a more respectful and inclusive workplace.

2014 PSES Results for RCMP Employee Engagement
2011 2014
Q55 0% 78%
Q56 67% 78%
Q57 76% 80%
Q55
My department or agency implements activities and practices that support a diverse workplace.
Q56
I think that my department or agency respects individual differences (e.g. culture, work styles, ideas).
Q57
Overall, my department or agency treats me with respect.

The RCMP results for questions 55 to 57 are consistent with the responses from the greater public service, which rated at 79%, 78% and 79% respectively.

Composition of the Force

A key theme in the Gender and Respect Action Plan was the composition and diversity of the RCMP, with a specific focus on the diversity challenges within the RM category. As can be seen in the next table, over the last decade the percentages of female and visible minority RMs have increased. Of particular note, the percentage of Aboriginal RMs remains well above the percentage in the Canadian population.

Percentage Composition of Regular Member (RM) workforce in RCMP
Year Women Members of Visible Minorities Aboriginal Peoples
2006 19.4 6.8 8.4
2012 20.4 8.1 7.9
2015 21.5 9.7 8.1
RM representation in senior non-commissioned ranks - 2011 vs. 2016
(Sergeants, Staff Sergeants, Staff Sergeants Major, Sergeants Major and Corps Sergeant Major)
Year Women % Men %
2011 78 7.4 977 92.6
2016 93 11.2 737 88.8

To provide points for comparison, overall in Canada in 2014:

  • 22% of police cadets were women (21% in the RCMP),
  • 20.6% of all police officers were women (21.5% in the RCMP), and
  • 10.9% of senior officers were women (16.5% in the RCMP).

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Resources in Canada, 2014

Since 2011, the number of female officers at the commissioned ranks of inspector and above has increased 63 per cent. At the most senior ranks, women represent one-third of the Commissioner's Senior Executive Committee, and female officers lead five of the 15 RCMP divisions.

These numbers show that the RCMP is doing similar to or better than police services in general with respect to the number of female officers. In addition, compared to 12 peer countries, Canada had the sixth highest percentage of female police officers in 2012 (Statistics Canada, Police Resources in Canada, 2014).

Conduct and Discipline

While the new conduct process has been in place for just over a year, we are seeing interesting results.

  • A total of 741 conduct cases, an increase of 158% over the previous years.
    Although it is too early to make a definitive statement why there is such an increase, we may be able to attribute it to the emphasis we are placing on the responsibility of supervisors to deal with unacceptable behavior, and to the new conduct process providing managers and employees greater flexibility when dealing with conduct issues.
  • The number of conduct matters addressed through administrative conduct (i.e., internal) meetings has increased to 92.5% versus 69% under the former system. This has resulted in much more efficient processing time, with the RCMP concluding the average conduct matter (i.e., where dismissal is not being sought) within six months compared to 12-18 months under the former system.
  • The number of RCMP members facing dismissal for the most serious of misconduct (56) has increased by 331%. While the increase is high, dismissals constitute just 7.5% of all conduct cases. Notwithstanding the increases, it is important to note that only 1.29% of RCMP members were subject to allegations of misconduct.

Total Discipline / Conduct Cases (2006-2015)

Description of graph in tabular format follows.

Total Discipline / Conduct Cases (2006-2015) - Table

Total Discipline / Conduct Cases (2006-2015)
2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-2014/11/28 2014/11/28-2015/12/31
Non-dismissal 99 83 69 89 100 88 104 83 79 New Process: Non-dismissal 685
Formal 226 256 231 254 156 206 187 158 118 New Process: Dismissal 56
Total 325 339 300 343 256 294 291 241 197 741

Harassment

The RCMP created the centralized Office for the Coordination of Harassment Complaints. The office provides oversight and assistance in ensuring policy compliance when determining harassment allegations.

As well, the RCMP now requires supervisors and employees to review as part of their annual performance assessment the:

  • Code of Conduct,
  • Conflict of Interest Directive, and
  • harassment policy.

Of the 152 harassment complaints received since the coming into force of the new conduct process, 25% have been resolved, including nine through informal conflict management.

Type of Harassment Complaints submitted between 2005 and 2013

Abuse of Authority Discrimination Interpersonal Sexual Harassment
589 45 734 40

Total Complaints 2005-2013 = 1,408 / Annual Average: 156 Complaints

Sick leave

Managing employees on long-term sick leave and disability is also improving.

In February 2013, the RCMP identified 183 members on long-term sick leave and began intervening and actively supporting these members through ongoing case management. By October 2014, these efforts yielded tangible results, with 55% of the members no longer off-duty sick.

As well, between January 2014 and December 2015, there was a 9% reduction in the number of members on sick leave for a period of over two years.

Employment Conflict - Civil Litigation

In October 2013, there were 61 active civil litigation claims concerning workplace conflict. By actively managing and resolving meritorious claims, the RCMP now has 40 active claims (as of March 4, 2016).

When claims are found to be meritorious, the RCMP provides compensation that is fair to both the complainant and Canadians, and in line with applicable court decisions.

Our Goals

Trust and confidence in policing from the citizens we serve is vital to our success. To achieve our goals for reform and successfully execute our mission, our leaders need to be the builders and maintainers of trust; they need to inspire others; they need to teach and mentor their subordinates; and they need to uphold and enforce our high ethical standards. Moreover, by valuing and leveraging diversity, we become a stronger organization: one that is more effective through enhanced decision-making and increased employee engagement.

As professionals, we need to emphasize that we are largely defined by our strength of character, our commitment to core values, and our capacity to build and maintain our knowledge and abilities. Canadians depend on the RCMP for their safety and security and, as such, they rightly expect no less than highly ethical behaviour from their national police service.

Lastly, all the systems, processes and strategies in the world won't succeed if the leaders within the organization don't execute on their responsibilities and diligently implement the changes we make. Our 'new normal' has not yet taken hold in every corner of the organization, and we have some work to do yet to ensure we all see this issue through the same lens.

"The soul of a nation can be determined by the methods its police use to solve crime."
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