BARRIE, ON, Sept. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) has released an independent investigation of alleged criminal acts that supports reforms at the organization that have already taken place and will continue to take place.
The five-month independent investigation by the law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP was commissioned by the OPPA after the announcement of an investigation into alleged criminal misconduct by the RCMP.
The Stikeman report sets out the facts regarding allegations outlined in an Information to Obtain sworn by the RCMP before the Ontario Superior Court, last March, including details of alleged abuse of personal expense accounts and numerous alleged accounts of workplace harassment at the OPPA*.
It is being released today by the OPPA in conjunction with a report by a leading legal expert on governance, Carol Hansell of Hansell LLP, which recommends significant changes to the way the OPPA is organized, including more accountability and independent oversight of all financial matters.
Many operational reforms have already been enacted by the OPPA and further changes are underway.
"The report by Stikeman Elliott has highlighted alleged practices that are unacceptable to our leadership, as well as to our membership," said acting OPPA President Doug Lewis.
"This has been a very dark chapter for the OPPA and its members. We are turning the page. We are protecting our finances on behalf of all members and we are treating all members, employees and stakeholders professionally, with the dignity and respect they deserve," Lewis said.
Areas addressed in the Hansell LLP report include:
- Governance training for all officials at the OPPA involved in governance of the organization;
- All OPPA bylaws to undergo a fundamental review and be revised to comply with legal standards, starting with a "clean slate";
- Elimination of the existing Audit Committee, to be replaced by properly drafted policies, internal controls and audits;
- Establish a Board Audit Committee to review financial statements and promote the independence of the Auditor from Staff and in Board oversight of financial statements;
- Clear terms of reference and position descriptions for everyone involved in OPPA governance;
- Additional administrative support for the Board to allow greater discipline to be imposed on Board processes;
- Revision of expense policies across the OPPA to make it clear which expenses are eligible to be reimbursed and new controls to ensure expenses are only paid in accordance with these policies;
- A comprehensive Code of Conduct applicable to everyone at the OPPA, requiring regular reports of any breaches of the Code. The Code should encourage reporting of any illegal or unethical behaviour free from concern about retaliation for reports made in good faith;
- A new anonymous and confidential whistleblower policy to allow actions not in the best interest of the OPPA to be escalated and addressed.
Lewis said that OPPA leaders plan to discuss the two reports and accompanying reforms with members across the province in the coming weeks, and looks forward to their feedback.
*Backgrounder available on request from OPPA Communications
About the Ontario Provincial Police Association
Headquartered in Barrie, the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) is the bargaining agent for almost 10,000 civilian and uniform members of the Ontario Provincial Police.
While our members are looking out for our communities, the Association is looking out for them. As their sole bargaining agent, we represent members' interests in negotiations with the employer (the Ontario government). However, an equally important task is the promotion of healthy, safe work environments. We advocate for better tools and equipment, improved health and safety standards, and better supports for members suffering operational stress injuries, among other issues of concern. These improvements help keep our members -- and our communities -- productive and safe.
SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police Association
For further information: Josh Jutras, Strategic Communications Coordinator, OPP Association, 800-461-4282, firstname.lastname@example.org