RCMP response to the report of the Independent Assessors regarding the claims made under the Merlo/Davidson settlement agreement
The RCMP Commissioner and her senior management team acknowledge the devastating impacts caused by experiences of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and the courage it took for women to come forward and disclose their experiences. The RCMP also acknowledges that there are many others who have had such experiences who did not take part in the claims process. The RCMP understands that the report is likely to have impacts on others not directly implicated in the settlement.
The RCMP acknowledges the recommendations made in the final report and recognizes that change will only occur if it is meaningful, holistic and addresses the underlying systemic factors that have contributed to a toxic culture for women and LGBTQ2S+ employees.
In 2016, a settlement was reached in the Merlo-Davidson Class Action related to women RCMP members and public service employees who alleged workplace harassment and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation occurring between 1974 and 2017. The settlement was reached during a period marked by a series of reviews focused on RCMP culture, including harassment and bullying behaviourFootnote 1. These generated numerous recommendations to improve RCMP policies and practices, with the goal of ensuring a workplace free of harassment, bullying, and abuse of power.
The majority of the recommended changes have been implemented in whole or in part; however, in recent years, the RCMP has embarked on a new way forward.
A holistic and long-term approach to organizational culture change was articulated in the Government's Response to the Report on Workplace Harassment in the RCMP and the Review of Four Cases of Civil Litigation against the RCMP on Workplace Harassment. It identified actions to address the key underlying factors that create the foundation for a healthy workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Specifically, efforts have focused on: strengthened governance; enhanced leadership development; advancing equity, diversity and inclusion; and ensuring a trusted harassment resolution regime.
In 2018, the Commissioner was given a strong mandate to modernize and transform the culture and management of the RCMP. Two years into this mandate, the organization has realized important progress – but there is much more to be done.
While the final report of the Independent Assessor echoes many of the troubling findings of other reviews, it also reinforces that culture change is a long-term endeavour. The RCMP is committed to ongoing, meaningful action to realize the goal of a healthy and inclusive workplace culture as the foundation of modernization. To ensure success, a new Action, Innovation and Modernization unit has been established to provide permanent oversight and guidance on change over the long term.
In no uncertain terms, RCMP senior leaders are fully committed to the eradication of harassment, violence and discrimination in the RCMP, and to ensuring swift action to address wrongdoing wherever and whenever it occurs.
Transforming RCMP culture – A holistic approach
"Vision 150" is the RCMP's multi-year modernization plan to build a healthy, diverse and professional workforce to support leading-edge policing. At the centre is a commitment to culture change. In the past two years, significant progress has been made in a number of foundational areas, with clear impacts.
Current and future efforts are aligned with the recommendations in the Independent Assessor's final report, and together they establish a clear and tangible path toward a modern, healthy, inclusive, respectful RCMP. A framework has also been developed to monitor and report on progress and results, and to provide transparency for RCMP employees and all Canadians.
In the past two years, key changes include:
- Continuous improvements to harassment resolution:
- Changes have been made to the RCMP harassment process to align with key recommendations, including: to centralize complaint intake, to provide additional legal training to decision-makers, and to fully externalize the investigation of all sexual harassment complaints. Respectful Workplace training has also been made mandatory for all RCMP employees.
- Access to informal conflict management tools has been expanded, including the hiring of dedicated practitioners to assist employees to address workplace conflict at the earliest point.
- The Cadet Training Program (CTP) was modified to include additional content on harassment and discrimination, the Code of Conduct, and RCMP core values.
- Significant improvements to governance and decision-making:
- The RCMP Management Advisory Board (MAB) was established in 2019 as an independent group of experts from multiple sectors across Canada to provide guidance on organizational change, including the harassment resolution process.
- Diversity has increased in decision-making. The RCMP has achieved gender parity at the highest levels. Currently, five out of ten Senior Executive Committee members are women, as are seven of 15 divisional Commanding Officers.
- A new Chief Administrative Officer position was created, and experienced public servants have been appointed to senior human resources, finance and technology roles.
- A renewed commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion:
- Gender-Based Analysis+ (GBA+) has been implemented across the organization, as a key tool for culture change and modernization used to ensure the routine consideration of diverse perspectives, and to detect and mitigate systemic barriers.
- A comprehensive RCMP Guide to Supporting Transgender, Non-binary and Two-Spirit (TNB2S) Employees was developed to help promote a gender-inclusive workplace. It provides accessible information for managers and employees, including defining key terms and providing practical advice to support TNB2S employees.
- Enhancements to leadership development:
- The RCMP has adopted Character Leadership, an evidence-based approach to ensuring the development and assessment of people skills and personal character, alongside operational know-how.
- The Foundations of Leadership course was implemented in 2019 to ensure a comprehensive leadership continuum from cadet to executive development. Geared to employees aspiring to supervisory roles, it includes content on bias awareness, effective decision-making and conflict management.
These initiatives reflect some of the key highlights of the past two years of the RCMP's culture change journey; additional information on these and other related RCMP modernization efforts is available to employees and the public on the Vision 150 tracker.
Priorities and action
The Independent Assessor's report identifies a series of interconnected themes; accordingly, the RCMP's response is grouped into four encompassing areas:
- Harassment prevention and resolution
- Addressing systemic barriers
- Recruitment and onboarding
- Training and leadership development
Actions in these areas will build on the progress made in recent years to put foundational elements in place to support meaningful long-term change.
Strengthening harassment prevention and trusted resolution
Over the past 18 months, the RCMP has worked closely with the Management Advisory Board and other key experts to develop a model for a new independent, civilian-staffed harassment prevention and resolution regime outside the chain-of-command to ensure employees have access to a trusted, consistent process that is accessible, timely and accountable. This process will integrate trauma-informed and victim-centred practice.
Aligned with best practices and key recommendations in the Independent Assessor's and other reports, the new regime will provide:
- Increased investigative capacity, to improve the timeliness of investigation and resolution of complaints; and improved communication and supports for employees.
- Increased impartiality and consistency in decision-making and disciplinary action.
- Additional training for supervisors and managers on addressing workplace conflict, and increased use of the Informal Conflict Management Program.
- Increased focus on prevention and workplace restoration.
The new RCMP harassment resolution regime will also align with the new Canada Labour Code (CLC) regulations (Bill C-65), which come into force in January 2021.
The implementation of the new regime has already begun through development of work descriptions and staffing actions. Implementation of the new regime is underway and it is expected to be operational in the summer of 2021, with full implementation within one year.
Addressing systemic barriers through a culture of accountability, equity and inclusion
The final report raises important issues related to the existence of systemic barriers for women and LGBTQ2S+ people in the RCMP. The RCMP acknowledges that meaningful change is advanced by addressing underlying organizational issues that have persisted over time, including in policies, practices and operations.
The RCMP is prioritizing key initiatives to advance and accelerate culture change, using an evidence-based approach.
- The RCMP is working with outside experts to complete an Organizational Culture Inventory that will provide a current and objective snapshot of RCMP culture. Using a globally tested approach, based on employee surveys and targeted interviews with a cross-section of the RCMP workforce, the results will help identify the RCMP's cultural strengths, and clearly define for RCMP leaders the behaviours and practices needed to address identified culture challenges. It will also provide a baseline against which to measure future change. The inventory will be complete including recommendations to senior managers by March 2021.
- The RCMP is undertaking a review of the RCMP's core values through internal and external consultation, to ensure these values and their definitions are modern, inclusive and well-understood by employees. An organizational values statement will also be developed to provide guidance on how RCMP employees are expected to live out the core values in the workplace and in communities. These values and behaviours will be broadly communicated.
- The RCMP will continue to expand the use of GBA + as an effective tool to examine unconscious bias and systemic barriers, including by hiring additional GBA+ advisors. An internal RCMP GBA+ Network has recently been established, with over 70 representatives from all divisions and business lines. The network will ensure ongoing training and centralized guidance to support rigorous GBA+.
- A robust RCMP Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy is being launched, that takes a firm stance against racism and discrimination, both with respect to RCMP internal operations and external service delivery. The EDI Strategy drives the RCMP to transform its culture change through enhancements to its approaches and practices toward leadership development, governance and decision-making; being clear, accountable and transparent about its processes and operations; and ensuring there are ambitious advances toward improved awareness and training for staff.
- The RCMP is exploring, in consultation with the national Gender and Harassment Advisory Committee, ways to mitigate barriers linked to maternity/parental leave. Identified solutions include better leveraging existing workplace reintegration programs, and providing additional guidance for managers. The RCMP acknowledges the importance of addressing vacancies for members on leave, and will continue to engage contracting partners and the Government.
- The RCMP is working to ensure employees have the supports they need to maintain positive mental health. This includes through the development of a new Well-Being Strategy (2020-2025). The Strategy focuses on ensuring a cohesive, comprehensive and evidence-based approach to the prevention and treatment of mental health and wellness. It builds on the RCMP's inaugural Mental Health Strategy (2014-2019), which focused on reducing the stigma of mental illness.
- The RCMP Commissioner has recently established a Lived Experience Mental Wellness Advisory Team comprised of current and former employees and family members with lived experience. This group provides critical ongoing advice on mental health issues and initiatives.
- To enhance diversity in specialized teams, the RCMP undertook a GBA+ analysis of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) selection process. Findings were incorporated into the ERT modernization plan, and include targeted recruitment and support for women applicants.
Recruitment and onboarding
The people we attract and recruit into the organization, and how we train them, is at the very core of workplace culture. Preventing inappropriate behaviour and fostering inclusive, respectful environments begins with cadets and those whom the RCMP recruits.
- The RCMP is advancing a recruitment modernization plan, to ensure the attraction of diverse candidates that are strong in character and skill, through processes that are inclusive and barrier-free. The RCMP is working with outside experts on an in-depth review of the attributes and characteristics required for effective modern policing; and the identification of modern screening tools that promote diversity and inclusion, including additional measures to detect racist and discriminatory attitudes and beliefs.
- The RCMP will recruit and train expert civilian employees to support its federal criminal investigative mandate. Individuals with specialized expertise and experience will be hired to meet current and future policing challenges, with targeted efforts to increase diversity and equitable representation.
The RCMP recognizes the need to review and modernize the approach to training over the long term, including examining large-scale changes to the RCMP Academy (Depot). COVID-19 has accelerated work to test alternative delivery models for certain aspects of training which will continue to be monitored for effectiveness.
A Chief Learning Officer (CLO) has recently been appointed to strengthen national standards, coordination and oversight for the design, development, delivery and evaluation of all RCMP learning, including Depot modernization.
While large-scale change will continue to be examined, key changes are being pursued to enhance the current model:
- The CTP is being reviewed using a GBA+ lens to ensure the language and scenarios are inclusive, do not unintentionally reinforce stereotypes, and reflect modern reality.
- The RCMP is currently undertaking an assessment of the impact of the military aspects of the Depot training environment and curriculum on cadet learning and organizational culture.
- Ongoing analysis will identify ways to strengthen diversity and inclusion both within the curriculum and the training environment to ensure cadets move forward with the right character and skills.
Leadership development and training
Leadership development continues to be an organizational priority, as a central driver of change. A leader's character is as important as their competencies; work will continue to ensure this is clearly reflected in RCMP processes. The RCMP will also work to ensure equitable promotion practices and training opportunities for all employees.
- As a central part of modernizing RCMP leadership development, the RCMP will fully integrate a Character Leadership approach across its recruitment, training and promotions processes. As a modern and evidence-based approach, Character Leadership will provide a framework to assess and develop character-based competencies throughout and employee's career. In 2020, the RCMP used Character Leadership interviews in several senior executive hiring processes.
- The Officer Candidate Process (OCP), the process by which officers apply to the senior ranks, will continue to be improved following the recommendations of a fairness review and GBA+ analysis. For example, changes to the annual timing of applications (to ensure applicants with school-aged children would not be deterred from applying) has already resulted in over 15% in the number of women applicants. Individuals may also now directly self-identify their future interest in the OCP without relying on a supervisor's endorsement. Candidates will be required to participate in a Character Leadership interview prior to continuing in the process.
- Training to prevent and address systemic discrimination remains a priority for employees at all levels. Content on unconscious bias has been added to existing RCMP leadership training, a new mandatory Cultural Awareness and Humility course was recently launched, and new mandatory anti-racism training, developed with external experts, will be launched in early 2021 for all RCMP employees. Unconscious bias, anti-racism and anti-discrimination expectations will be established for senior managers and leaders.
- To ensure all RCMP employees have equitable access to training opportunities, the RCMP will undertake a GBA+ review of practices related to the allocation of employee training to identify barriers and ensure fairness and transparency.
The RCMP is committed to accountability and transparency to the public and to its employees to foster a healthy, respectful and safe workplace and is committed to continuous monitoring of progress on the initiatives described in this response.
An organizational Results Framework, a detailed tool used to identify short, medium and long-term objectives under key priorities, has been developed to allow accurate monitoring of progress over time; incremental progress on all initiatives will be regularly communicated on the RCMP's public website, using the Vision 150 tracker.
A transformed RCMP culture is one where all employees feel respected and included, where truth is spoken to power, and where management is transparent and accountable in upholding respectful workplaces. It is equally essential that trusted mechanisms exist to effectively resolve issues when they occur, and that employees who experience and/or report racism, discrimination, harassment or violence are fully supported.
The RCMP remains fully committed to making the necessary changes to continue its progress to achieve this vision.
As the framework for change, Vision 150 is not a destination, it provides the direction for an ongoing journey to ensure a modern RCMP that reflects and serves Canada with integrity and trust. Real progress has been made but work is never complete – and we are in it for the long haul.
We know we can't do it alone. Challenging and addressing systemic barriers, including sexism, racism and all forms of unacceptable practice, requires engagement and consultation with those affected, to develop meaningful and credible solutions.
Working with partners and Government, we will to continue to advance meaningful actions towards a healthy, respectful and safe workplace free from violence, harassment and discrimination.
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