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Prevention and resolution of workplace harassment

The RCMP is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment, free of discrimination, and harassment. However -- as with any large organization -- conflicts can arise.

In February 2013, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP (then known as the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP) published a report titled: Public Interest Investigation Report into Issues of Workplace Harassment within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP was pleased that the CRCC's investigation concluded that harassment is not systemic within the organization. It also noted that sexual harassment accounted for 4 per cent of complaints. As awareness surrounding the Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment process continues to rise, we have seen an increase in the number of complaints reported. The overall number of complaints however, remains low relative to the population size and there has not been an increase in the number of established cases of harassment which remains under 5 per cent. Sexual Harassment remains low as well, at approximately 6 per cent, it makes up only a small portion of the overall complaints.

Though incidence rates of harassment are low, one case is too many. The RCMP is continually striving to improve in order to provide a safe and respectful work environment for its employees. One that is free of discrimination, offensive behaviour and harassment.

The CRCC made 11 recommendations to help support the RCMP in providing a respectful workplace for our employees; each of these recommendations is a building block towards a long term solution.

The RCMP has advanced many of the same ideas that have been brought forward by the CRCC, including a new streamlined harassment investigation and resolution process and the development of service standards for the management of harassment complaints.

Also released in 2013, Gender and Respect - The RCMP Action Plan, continues to support positive courses of action including:

  • the centralized oversight and administration of the harassment complaint process; and
  • the continuing development of Respectful Workplace Programs.

Following are some of the concrete steps we have taken as we work towards building a more respectful workplace.

New RCMP Act

On November 28, 2014 the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act came into force allowing the nearly 30 year old RCMP Act to be updated. In support of the new Act, several of the RCMP's human resource management processes, policies and procedures were updated, including the investigation and resolution of harassment complaints.

The amendments to the RCMP Act facilitate a more timely and effective prevention, investigation and resolution of harassment issues.

Key changes include:

  • a single RCMP-specific process created under Commissioner's Standing Orders to deal with harassment complaints involving members rather than dual processes dictated by Treasury Board policy and Part IV of the RCMP Act;
  • the creation of a new national Office for the Coordination of Harassment Complaints (OCHC) which allows for the centralized intake and monitoring all harassment complaints;
  • increased opportunity for informal resolution and a simplified appeal process for member complainants;
  • greater transparency in the harassment complaint process and improved communication with the complainants; and
  • a simplified appeal process for complainants that includes a review by the External Review Committee and access to the Commissioner for a final and binding decision.

New Code of Conduct

In support of the amended RCMP Act, the RCMP has developed a new Code of Conduct for members that is reflective of Canadians' expectations of its national police service and its members, as well as a Code of Conduct for public service employees, both of which specifically identify harassment as a contravention of the Code.

National Guidebook – Investigation and Resolution of Harassment Complaints

This internal guide helps employees in the analysis of a situation they believe may be workplace harassment. One of the items it emphasizes is the importance of addressing workplace conflict at the onset -- before it becomes harassment -- by notifying the other party of the offensive behaviour and utilizing the early resolution process to resolve the conflict.

Members are required to read a harassment awareness briefing prior to meeting with their manager for their annual performance assessment to ensure they understand it and, if not, take the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns they have around harassment.

RCMP harassment process service standards

In November 2014, the RCMP implemented new service standards for the investigation and resolution of harassment complaints. The standards identify the time frames to guide those involved in the process, so as to reduce the average processing time and meet the one year timeline established by Treasury Board Secretariat.

Revised harassment policy

Also in November 2014, the RCMP implemented new internal policy: Investigation and Resolution of Harassment Complaints. The new policy provides more clarity in the language and is better aligned with Treasury Board's harassment policy which took effect on October 1, 2012.

The process has created a single, streamlined approach to dealing with harassment complaints.

Workplace Reporting System

In December 2013, the RCMP created the Workplace Reporting System, which is a centralized reporting process for employees who are seeking advice on, or raising awareness of, workplace issues. The Workplace Reporting System provides employees with an alternative avenue to report incidents or issues of concern when they are unsure where to go, or when established reporting methods are not appropriate or possible.

What else are we doing?

  • The RCMP has created a new online Respectful Workplace course which is mandatory for all employees. This replaces the mandatory online Harassment Awareness and Prevention Training which the RCMP has had in place since 2005. To date, more than 30,000 employees have completed the course.
  • The RCMP's Supervisor Development Program (SDP) provides training to new supervisors on:
    • Managing Workplace Relations for early identification and effective communication to address inappropriate behaviors;
    • the application of the Investigation and Resolution of Harassment Complaints Process; and
    • Respectful Workplace training.
  • The Manager Development Program and Officer Orientation and Development Course offer similar training to the SDP.
  • RCMP Cadets receive instruction on harassment and the importance of respectful workplace on day one of the 24-week cadet training program. Throughout their time at "Depot", cadets are continuously reminded that they have to make the right choices while on-duty or off, and need to come forward to report incidents. In fact, the time spent on topics related to harassment prevention in the Cadet Training Program is comparable to the time spent other key topics such as powers of arrest, risk assessment and interviewing.
  • The RCMP launched the Informal Conflict Management Program during the summer of 2014.
  • On an annual basis, RCMP members review the Code of Conduct, the Conflict of Interest Policy and the harassment policy with their supervisors during their performance reviews.
  • In January 2017 the RCMP launched a month long "Sexual Misconduct in the workplace" awareness campaign. The four stage campaign looked to address recommendations from the June 2016 Report on Allegations of Harassment and Sexual Misconduct at the RCMP's Canadian Police College Explosives Training Unit, while increasing awareness and reducing sexually related misconduct. Steps included defining Sexual Misconduct to ensure allegations were being properly identified, tracked and addressed. Other initiatives included education on identifying sexual misconduct and steps to prevent and resolve issues.

More information?

Please contact us.