The RCMP has received considerable attention for the manner in which we respond to complaints of workplace harassment.
As the Commissioner of the RCMP, I want to be clear: Harassment and discrimination have no place in the RCMP workplace. Every one of our employees should feel confident they will be treated with dignity and respect by their colleagues, managers and leaders.
Deep and meaningful changes across a large organization take time and a great deal of effort, and we are beginning to see progress. One of our key focuses has been on improving every step of the conflict management and harassment complaint process, including prevention, early resolution, investigations, restoration and support.
Today, I'm pleased to announce the launch of the Independent Centre for Harassment Resolution (ICHR). The ICHR is a centralized, independent unit responsible for matters relating to the resolution of harassment and violence occurrences for RCMP employees. It will ensure ongoing compliance with the new Canada Labour Code regulations that came into force earlier this year. This includes implementing the new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention, Investigation and Resolution policy at the RCMP, which will be published in July.
Under the current process, divisions are responsible for coordinating, investigating and making decisions on harassment complaints, and the majority of harassment investigators are regular members who perform the function on an ad hoc basis in addition to their regular duties.
Under the ICHR, external civilian investigators will report through an Executive Director to our Chief Administrative Officer. This will ensure that the resources responsible for carrying out investigations are outside the employee's usual chain of command. We want employees to feel confident in coming forward to report incidents and to trust that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed fairly.
As the ICHR is launched, the conduct process will continue to be implemented by divisional Commanding Officers. However, to meet our objective of staying outside the chain of command, Commanding Officers will not be overseeing conduct processes related to harassment in their own divisions.
We have taken steps to make the harassment process as external as we can right now, but our work will continue to ensure we get this right and earn the trust and confidence of our employees. We currently have two reviews underway. One is an assessment of other elements of the ICHR that can be externalized. The other will review conduct measures as well as the application of the conduct process. Final reports will be prepared on both topics once the reviews have been completed.
We know support services for victims has been identified as a gap in addressing workplace harassment in the RCMP, and we want to fix that. While the ICHR will look after occurrences of harassment, we will also be providing support to employees who have experienced criminal offenses related to workplace harassment and violence in the past and may not have reported it. This may include establishing a dedicated resource to connect interested employees with victim services and other supports.
A transformation this big does not happen overnight. However, in time, these changes will have significant positive results for our employees and our workplace.