SURREY, BC, May 4, 2016 The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) says the Government of Canada is doing an injustice to members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) by not including harassment and discrimination among a host of other issues in its new legislation to create a new labour relations regime for the RCMP: Bill C-7.
In the next couple of weeks the Senate of Canada will review — and hopefully debate at Committee — this legislation and MPPAC is calling on these Senators to make the much-needed amendments. Last month the House of Commons Committee failed to make amendments ensuring members will be protected in any future collective agreement from harassment and discrimination.
"Occurrences of harassment and discrimination continue to occur in the RCMP workplace, and it will sadly stay a reality for many of our women and men unless this legislation is changed, to immediately reduce these systemic issues" said MPPAC President Rae Banwarie. "Too many members have been victimized — such as retired Constable Janet Merlo — who have had to take their situation to the courts to get any measure of accountability and redress. These harms can only be reduced if our Senators make the critical missing amendments needed in Bill C-7."
Merlo, who spent 20 years in uniform, came forward to speak up about her experience of harassment as an RCMP member in her book No One to Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP.
"I was bullied, belittled and harassed by male officers during my years in the RCMP, and in writing this book I had the courage to come forward and speak up," said Merlo. "I don't expect any changes in the RCMP unless this legislation is changed." I believe the only way forward is to afford our members leading edge effective independent representation in handling these issues among many others.
As a national association, MPPAC is leading the way on these matters and has called for accountability in many tragic situations such as Mayerthorpe, Moncton, St. Albert as well as the resignation of the Commissioner of the RCMP for his leadership failure.
In recent years, more class-action lawsuits have been filed alleging systemic gender-based harassment and discrimination in the RCMP. In addition, recent allegations of misconduct and workplace harassment have dogged the RCMP. These will only continue until transformational changes are made in the RCMP.
"There is an unacceptably high number of members who have committed suicides, who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, occupational stress injuries, disability claims and sick leave as a result of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the force," said MPPAC media liaison, Terry McKee. "It is affecting the force as well as public safety. How long are we going to let this continue to happen? When will Canadians say enough is enough and demand change for their RCMP?"
Banwarie added: "Legislation alone will not change our culture. Leadership from all levels through meaningful collective bargaining will force the cultural reformation required to restore the force's reputation as a premier police force."
SOURCE Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC)
For further information: Terry McKee, Media Relations, Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, T: (506) 850-3907 • E: [email protected]