2019 National Gender and Harassment Advisory Committee - Annual Report


Gender and Harassment Advisory Committees (GHACs) were established across the RCMP in compliance with the Merlo and Davidson v. Canada settlement agreement, sanctioned by the courts on May 30, 2017. The RCMP implemented GHACs in all 16 RCMP divisions and one National Committee (NGHAC), chaired by the Commissioner. In an effort to ensure diversity, the Committees seek representation from all categories of RCMP employees, including Regular Members, Civilian Members, and Public Service Employees. The diverse identities of Committee members help ensure multiple perspectives are considered when enacting Committee duties. To facilitate diverse representation on the Committees, an application and nomination process has been implemented.

The GHACs internally advise divisional Commanding Officers and the Commissioner on matters pertaining to gender, sexual orientation, harassment, and equity and inclusivity. These advice-giving Committees are intended to support organizational commitments aimed at creating and maintaining a safe workplace, free of harassment and discrimination. The 16 divisional Committees are also responsible for annually submitting recommendations to the National Committee. The National Committee reviews the divisional reports and completes an Annual Report consisting of the submitted recommendations, as well as a response from the RCMP. The present report is the second Annual Report to be completed.

2019 Committee Discussions and Recommendations

Divisional Committees

Divisional Committee meetings took place between January and December 2018 with the majority of Committees submitting their Annual Report in November or December 2018. The following recommendations were mentioned within the reports.

Most reports included recommendations to implement or enhance training. For instance, one suggestion was to expand cadet training to include more substance on systemic gender biases and the impacts on society, as well as on the RCMP. It was also recommended that cadets be introduced to Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) early on in support of this objective.

Some divisions recommended that training be implemented to address barriers to resolving harassment. Some of the suggested actions included training on bystander intervention, conflict resolution, and how to have difficult conversations with supervisors. As well, divisional Committees requested access to national presentations to help raise awareness of the experiences and issues faced by transgender people and to assist transgender employees come out to their peers.

Recommendations also demonstrated initiative by the Committees. For example, one division suggested all Committees arrange visits to detachments and units within their jurisdiction to discuss ongoing objectives, themes, expectations, and efforts of the GHACs. In respect to recruitment initiatives, it was suggested that the RCMP expand the section, Women in Policing, on its career website and provide candidates with the opportunity to speak with women recruiters. Specifically, it was suggested that inspirational profiles of women, incentives for pursuing a career with the RCMP, and polls on barriers facing women be added to the web page.

One division also commented on the need to expedite harassment investigations to support timely resolution.

National Committee

Given that the GHACs were established in the Winter of 2017/18, the first NGHAC meeting was held on April 5, 2018. Themes of that meeting were discussed in the 2018 Annual Report.

The following provides a summary of NGHAC activities between May 2018 and March 2019.

The second NGHAC meeting was held on February 12, 2019. During this meeting, the Committee reviewed records from the April 2018 meeting. Members also reviewed the recommendations from the Annual Reports received from divisional GHACs and identified ways to move forward.

To enhance connections between national and divisional Committees, members suggested having NGHAC members also sit in on their divisional GHAC, although given the limited membership this would entail some representatives participating in more than one divisional GHAC. They also suggested individuals from each division be invited to join the next NGHAC meeting, via telephone or video call. The NGHAC also discussed the need to examine the Merlo-Davidson settlement obligations to identify responsibilities to task individuals with. The Committee also discussed sharing information on supporting transgender employees in the workplace, based on products developed by several divisions.

Commissioner Lucki shared information on the ongoing development of the RCMP's transformation strategy, "Vision 150." It was proposed that NGHAC members be consulted on key Vision 150 initiatives. During the meeting, the Committee was consulted on one such initiative: the Uniform Modernization Project. An overview of the revised draft uniform and grooming policy, amended to ensure gender inclusion and respect for diversity, was presented. NGHAC members were subsequently asked to review the draft policy and provide feedback via email.

Finally, one NGHAC member presented the article, Harcelé parce qu'il parlait mal anglais, in an effort to highlight language related challenges faced by some RCMP employees.

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion about the value of holding semi-annual meetings rather than annual meetings in the future. All Committee members agreed this would be beneficial. As such, the next NGHAC meeting was scheduled for September 17, 2019.

RCMP Response to Committee Recommendations

During the reporting period, the RCMP developed a public response to two reports dealing with culture and harassment. The response addressed a number of issues raised by the national and divisional GHACs.

In May 2017, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) released the Report into Workplace Harassment in the RCMP. Among other matters, the CRCC highlighted concerns regarding harassment investigations, the abuse of authority within RCMP organizational structures, and the need for enhanced civilian oversight. The report also called for the civilianization of senior administrative positions, in order to ensure the required level of skill and expertise.

Similarly, the Review of Four Cases of Civil Litigation against the RCMP on Workplace Harassment, released in March 2017, commented on the RCMP's need for external expertise in the harassment investigation process and suggested an independent investigation process. The report also cited that harassment has been pervasive within the RCMP and appears to result, in part, from the organization's hierarchical structure; as such, the RCMP cannot tackle this problem alone.

In January 2019, the Government released its 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. This report outlined the RCMP's approach to addressing the range of issues common to the Merlo-Davidson settlement and the CRCC and Fraser Reports.

The response addresses many issues related to those raised by divisional GHACs. The NGHAC, in accordance with its advisory role, was consulted on this response prior to its release. The following provides an overview of key issues, including those that relate to GHAC recommendations.

The report laid out the RCMP's commitments across four broad themes: RCMP governance, harassment resolution and prevention, leadership development and professionalization, and diversity and inclusion. The response confirmed that the government would establish a Management Advisory Board to guide the RCMP in creating organizational transformation and to advise the RCMP on management and administrative matters. As well, consideration would be given to professionalizing the organization, including by recruiting highly skilled civilian experts for non-operational roles.

In 2018, the RCMP also created a new policy to ensure that sexual harassment complaints be investigated by external civilian investigators in an effort to limit bias and conflicts of interest, while continuing to examine options for the partial or full externalization of the harassment regime.

GHACs recommended improvements in anti-harassment training for all employees. The RCMP acknowledges the importance of appropriate training in this area. Its courses are reviewed and updated on a regular basis and alignment is ensured with any new legislation and training requirements related to preventing and addressing workplace violence and harassment in federally-regulated workplaces. Courses on the RCMP Core Values and anti-harassment begin with cadets at Depot and the RCMP's training for Depot facilitators includes sessions on human rights, harassment and discrimination, and bias awareness.

Additionally, as outlined in its response to the CRCC and Fraser reports, the RCMP acknowledges the importance of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Products and materials continue to be developed that include a balanced approach to gender and a continued effort to enhance diversity throughout the RCMP. Aligned with the GHAC recommendation to enhance efforts to recruit women, in 2018, an additional 150 videos, featuring diverse women and men working in various policing specializations, were added to run on internal RCMP platforms. Advancing a strong and inclusive recruitment process will continue to be an important part of the RCMP's modernization.

Finally, the RCMP committed to increasing diversity and inclusivity within the workplace. This included establishing a core team of permanent internal resources to support the implementation of Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) across the organization. Resources were used to review programs and policies, including the cadet training program.

Moving forward, the RCMP is committed to continuing to implement the actions laid out in this response, in order to transform workplace culture and prevent and address workplace harassment. The RCMP recognizes the important role the GHACs have and will ensure continued opportunities for GHACs to advise on key initiatives that contribute to these goals.

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