Case Reports are tabled in Parliament when, at the conclusion of an investigation into a disclosure, the Commissioner concludes that wrongdoing has occurred as defined by the Act.
The purpose of investigations into disclosures is, according to the Act, to bring the findings of wrongdoing to the attention of the organization's chief executive and to make recommendations for corrective action.
Under subsection 38(3.3) of the Act, the Commissioner must report to Parliament founded cases of wrongdoing within 60 days after the conclusion of the investigation.
The following are the Case Reports tabled to date before Parliament.
September - Department of National Defence
The Department of National Defence (DND) committed wrongdoing pursuant to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act when DND contravened the Act by failing to provide prompt public access to information about founded cases of wrongdoing at DND. Furthermore, DND committed wrongdoing pursuant to the Act—gross mismanagement—by failing to provide prompt public access to information about a founded case of wrongdoing in the Canadian Armed Forces, and failing to advise disclosers of the outcome of investigations into wrongdoing at DND and in the Forces.
Text version of the video statement
Hello, I’m Joe Friday, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada. Today, I tabled a case report related to founded cases of wrongdoing at the Department of National Defence.
This report, which is my final as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, touches on an important topic for all public servants—the administration of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. The subject of my report relates to internal disclosures and investigations at DND, and my Office’s investigation uncovered a pattern of repeated delays related to the publication of findings of wrongdoing at DND and in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Following a disclosure from a whistleblower, my Office launched an investigation into an allegation that senior managers at DND did not provide prompt public access to information related to findings of wrongdoing in the Forces. A subsequent disclosure alleged that senior managers had not provided whistleblowers with results related to findings of wrongdoing at DND and in the Forces. The Act expressly requires that, following a finding of wrongdoing within an organization, the Deputy Head provide prompt public access to information about the wrongdoing. This transparency requirement is a legal obligation.
My Office’s investigation examined evidence related to the public reporting of wrongdoing between 2015, the year that DND’s website was last updated at the time, and 2020, the year in which our investigation was launched. During this time, there were three findings of wrongdoing at DND and in the Forces. However, no information about these findings was made public until 2021 or 2022, and only then, after the launch of my Office’s investigation.
The evidence demonstrated a pattern in the internal disclosure process at DND and in the Forces. Founded cases of wrongdoing were not being published, and in some cases, whistleblowers were not being informed of the outcome of internal investigations in a timely manner. Witnesses noted they had many concerns with how cases were being handled.
In one case, files had been provided to management for final decision, “never to be seen again”. One witness called the process following an internal investigation “chaos”. Other witnesses stated that “[the process] made no sense”, and that management delayed release of a case without reason.
The results of our investigation are troubling. Public servants must be able to have confidence in their senior leadership. Making a disclosure of wrongdoing is an extremely difficult and courageous act, and those who make a disclosure have a right to be kept informed and to expect that founded cases will be shared with the public. This is fundamental to the very nature and purpose of the whistleblowing regime. In this case, whistleblowers were left in the dark and had no choice but to raise the alarm again, this time about the very individuals who were meant to shine light on wrongdoing.
I have spoken about the need for a culture change in the federal public sector. The results of the most recent Public Service Employee Survey clearly underscore the need for senior leaders to create environments where whistleblowers feel safe and supported.
Further, research carried out by my Office demonstrates that public servants believe that there is no point in blowing the whistle, because there will be no consequences for wrongdoers and things will never change. The combination of fear and cynicism is a powerful disincentive and undermines the goal of the Act, as well as confidence in the federal public sector. By delaying release of these investigation findings, DND contributed to that cynicism and let down their employees, as well as eroding their trust in the very system designed to protect them and to bring wrongdoing to light.
The evidence uncovered and examined during my Office’s investigation makes it clear that there was a breakdown in the management of the internal disclosure process at DND and in the Forces, suggesting a systemic problem and a lack of accountability. As such, I find that the Department of National Defence committed wrongdoing and that their inaction amounts to a contravention of the law, as well as gross mismanagement.
October - Global Affairs Canada
An executive at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) committed a serious breach of a code of conduct when she continued to make inappropriate comments to employees and mistreated employees in full knowledge that GAC had previously found her behaviour to be a breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—specifically, the “Respect for People” value.
Furthermore, GAC committed gross mismanagement by not adequately addressing the executive’s inappropriate behaviour in accordance with recommendations stemming from a 2017 GAC internal investigation into her conduct, and GAC did not ensure that the executive’s behaviour had improved before promoting her, giving employees the impression that they condoned her behaviour.
Text version of the video statement
Hello. I’m Joe Friday, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada.
I would like to inform you of the Case Report of founded wrongdoing related to Global Affairs Canada that I have tabled in Parliament.
Upon receiving a disclosure from a whistleblower, my Office investigated the behaviour of an executive at Global Affairs that occurred between 2017 and 2020, as well as Global Affairs’ response to the executive’s behaviour. Following the investigation, I concluded that the executive breached a code of conduct and that Global Affairs committed gross mismanagement.
Investigators with my Office interviewed 24 witnesses, in addition to examining numerous documents. The evidence establishes that over a period of several years, the executive made inappropriate comments and mistreated employees. It also demonstrates that Global Affairs did not take adequate measures to provide the executive with the tools necessary to correct her behaviour, nor did they ensure employees were shielded from continued mistreatment. In addition, Global Affairs failed to ensure an environment in which employees felt comfortable bringing forward concerns.
In 2016, following complaints from employees, Global Affairs undertook their own internal investigation into the behaviour of the executive. In 2017, Global Affairs determined that the executive had breached the departmental Values and Ethics Code—specifically, the “Respect for People” value. The executive was to be put on an action plan, and was to be considered for a promotion once her behaviour improved.
However, the executive continued to make disparaging comments about employees in front of others, and, on a number of occasions, mocked the work of employees. This included making reference to an employee’s weight, humiliating co-op students in front of others, misrepresenting the views of a fellow executive related to an employee’s performance, and comparing a training session to a “concentration camp.”
In June 2018, just over a year after the executive was found to have breached Global Affairs’ Values and Ethics Code, she was promoted. The promotion occurred despite the fact that no action plan had been put in place, and that the mistreatment of employees and inappropriate comments continued. In promoting the executive, Global Affairs appeared to be condoning the unacceptable behaviour, eroding employees’ trust in the processes for bringing forward their concerns.
It is an accepted principle that managers are held to a higher standard of conduct, and must serve as an example to employees. It is reasonable that, on occasion, managers make errors in judgment. However, in the case of this executive, the evidence shows a sustained pattern over several years of inappropriate behaviour and comments.
Every public servant has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, and the executive’s behaviour breached that right. In addition, the inaction of Global Affairs made the situation worse. Employees must be confident in the systems in place for coming forward when something is wrong, and the erosion of this confidence takes significant time and effort to repair. When confidence in reporting mechanisms is shaken, it is a disservice to public servants and all Canadians.
March - Correctional Service of Canada
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) committed gross mismanagement, by failing to take adequate measures to address several serious incidents of inappropriate behaviour by a group of Correctional Officers at the Regional Mental Health Centre (RMHC) at the Archambault Institution in Quebec, including committing acts of insubordination, failing to ensure the security of employees of the RMHC, and harassing employees.
The CSC also created a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of an employee of the RMHC, when it failed to take adequate measures to prevent a group of Correctional Officers from deliberately putting at risk the life or health of an employee who has a life-threatening allergy.
Text version of the video statement
Hello. I’m Joe Friday, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada.
I would like to inform you of founded cases of wrongdoing that I have presented to Parliament related to the Correctional Service of Canada.
Following information received from a whistleblower, my Office investigated several incidents that occurred at the Regional Mental Health Centre at the Archambault Institution, in Quebec, from 2017 to 2018. Following the investigation, I concluded that the CSC committed gross mismanagement and created a substantial and specific danger to the life, health and safety of an employee.
Investigators interviewed 28 witnesses, in addition to examining numerous documents and viewing video footage. The evidence demonstrates that over a period of a year, a group of Correctional Officers working in the Regional Mental Health Centre repeatedly committed acts of insubordination and harassment, and failed to ensure the security of employees. In response, the CSC took little or no action, and serious incidents continued to occur, putting at risk the safety of employees as well as hindering the ability of the Centre to fulfill its mandate.
Insubordination occurred on a number of occasions, and included abandonment of a post by a Correctional Officer, which resulted in several employees being locked in with inmates with no means to exit; tampering with an official memo regarding use of force; and preventing employees from administering medications to inmates.
The continued harassment of several employees included posting of racist material, which remained on display for months; denigration of the work of employees of the Regional Mental Health Centre; and the targeting of an employee with the goal of pushing her out of her job.
Over a period of several months, an employee with a life-threatening seafood allergy was subjected to harassment, and her safety was put in danger when some Correctional Officers refused to comply with rules that banned allergens from her workplace. Not only did these Correctional Officers ignore the ban, they actively sought opportunities to bring seafood onto the premises, including organizing a sushi night during which someone provided her with a gas mask, saying “put that on or you die tonight.”
These were not isolated incidents; instead, systemic problems were created by a work environment in which a group of Correctional Officers were emboldened to be insubordinate with little or no consequence. The CSC failed to ensure that these Correctional Officers fulfilled their duties and as a result, put the safety of employees at risk.
Ultimately, the incidents outlined in my report led two employees of the Regional Mental Health Centre to go on sick leave, one of whom eventually resigned. In addition, there was a breakdown in trust between employees of the Regional Mental Health Centre and Correctional Officers, putting at risk the ability of the organization to carry out its mandate.
In an inherently dangerous environment such as a penitentiary, the employer must be even more vigilant in ensuring that employees are safe. My hope is that this report can serve as a reminder that all employees have a right to a healthy and safe workplace, and that responses to unacceptable behaviour must be timely and effective.
March - Correctional Service of Canada
Director Brigitte de Blois committed gross mismanagement and a serious breach of the CSC Code of Discipline and of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector by screaming at employees, making insulting and derogatory comments towards them, and displaying aggressive behaviour on a regular basis in the workplace. Assistant Commissioner Larry Motiuk committed gross mismanagement and a serious breach of the CSC Code of Discipline and of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector by failing to take appropriate measures to address the internal allegations of abusive behaviour made against the Director.
CSC has responded that: appropriate disciplinary measures have been taken with regard to the Director and Assistant Commissioner; that workplace wellness sessions and other related activities were conducted in the affected divisions and the department at a large; and that the interim CSC Commissioner will assess the need for further workplace wellness activities for the affected divisions to ensure a healthy workplace.
Text version of the video statement
Hello. I am Joe Friday, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
I would like to inform you of founded cases of wrongdoing that I have presented to Parliament. These cases relate to Correctional Service Canada.
As a result of a whistleblower coming forward and after my Office’s investigation into the matter, I concluded that both Ms. Brigitte de Blois, a Director, and Assistant Commissioner Larry Motiuk committed gross mismanagement and a serious breach of the Correctional Service Canada Code of Discipline and of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
It is important to note that we do not investigate individual harassment complaints, but rather instances of behaviour that are systemic or that can have a detrimental effect on employees and the workplace generally. A key feature of the federal whistleblowing regime is its focus on accountability, particularly that of senior executives. As a result, when we receive disclosures like this one, we look to management’s actions in addressing and resolving problems that are within their authority and responsibility.
The Director and the Assistant Commissioner, as well as 27 other witnesses were interviewed.
The evidence clearly shows that the Director engaged in repetitive abusive behaviour characterized by frequent screaming, insults and making denigrating comments, and that she was aggressive towards her employees. As a result, over a long period of time, the Director’s inappropriate conduct had negative consequences on those reporting to her.
The witnesses’ testimonies demonstrate that they were working in an environment of fear that adversely affected their well-being. The Director neither treated them with respect nor helped to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace as required under the Correctional Service Canada Code of Discipline and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
The findings of wrongdoing against the Assistant Commissioner specifically relate to when further incidents of abusive behaviour by the Director were reported to him. Of critical significance is that the Assistant Commissioner did not inform a manager of Ms. de Blois of her past conduct, thereby minimizing the importance of her alleged misbehaviour. This information would have been essential to allow the manager to properly determine how best to address the issues.
In the workplace, complaints of repeated and ongoing harassment must be taken seriously, especially when made against a senior executive occupying a position of significant authority over employees. It is not in keeping with management’s responsibilities and certainly does not demonstrate transparency, engagement, collaboration and respectful communication.
A different set of rules should not apply to senior executives than to the rest of employees. Management must take immediate action to address instances of systemic or repeated harassment and must continue to monitor the issue to ensure that the behaviour has stopped.
It is my hope that these findings of wrongdoing will send a strong message that abusive behaviour is neither acceptable nor tolerated. Given the current government’s priority on mental health in the workplace, this report can serve to highlight the importance of ensuring a professional environment. All employees, regardless of their level and function in any organization, must be treated with respect.
September - Canadian Food Inspection Agency
A senior executive committed gross mismanagement and a serious breach of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector as well as the CFIA Code of Conduct, by making, on an ongoing basis, inappropriate comments to employees, soliciting personal information from employees about other employees, mistreating and harassing staff, abusing her authority, and failing to show reasonable due diligence in regard to an employee’s termination of employment.
The CFIA has responded that appropriate action is being taken with regard to the senior executive, workplace wellness and promoting an environment where all employees are respected.
June - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The former Director of the Conservation and Protection branch in the Maritimes Region as well as its regional and national management failed to take necessary and appropriate action to respond to a clear and demonstrated health and safety issue.
DFO has committed to taking appropriate action including measures to protect the hearing of its employees who may be exposed to high noise levels, possible discipline and administrative measures to ensure that the wrongdoing is not repeated.
February - Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Dr. Bruce Archibald in his capacity as President of the Agency, and Mr. Gérard Étienne in his capacity as Vice-President of Human Resources, committed gross mismanagement when they failed to take appropriate and required action to deal fairly and thoroughly with three serious harassment complaints, filed against a senior executive who reported directly to Dr. Archibald.
CFIA has taken steps to verify that the three harassment complaints will be fully and fairly considered, and will be retaining the services of an experienced independent third party for this purpose. Moreover, it will examine whether it should be standard practice for CFIA to refer all harassment complaints made against senior executives to an independent third party. The Agency also had an independent third party review its harassment procedures and processes. Furthermore, the Agency developed training on harassment prevention and awareness and made it mandatory for all employees, and has also partnered with PSAC to provide enhanced respectful workplace training to employees.
February - Public Health Agency of Canada
An Executive, who at the time of the disclosure was an Acting Director General, committed a serious breach of the Agency’s Code of Conduct and committed gross mismanagement by engaging in the verbal abuse of staff, other employees of the Agency and of other government organizations, and also by displaying physical anger towards staff, including outbursts of violent rage.
The Executive left PHAC in 2014 to work for another government department. PHAC identified measures that were taken by Senior Management to foster a respectful and healthy workplace, free of harassment. The Executive’s current workplace environment is being proactively monitored to ensure no recurrence of any wrongdoing, and his current employer determined that disciplinary and corrective measures were appropriate.
February - Correctional Service of Canada
Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, a penal institution under the authority of the Correctional Service of Canada, committed gross mismanagement by repeatedly allowing employees to bring children to the institution creating a substantial and specific danger to their safety. The children were exposed to some inmates who had been sentenced for crimes involving children, and others who had specific conditions imposed on them not to be near children.
Department took immediate action to stop the practice and put in place measures to address the situation.
November - Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Some pilots of Ottawa Air Section contravened regulations by flying aircraft overweight and not properly completing logbooks regarding weight.
Corrective action plans put in place; health and safety not at risk.
May - Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation
Former CEO committed a serious breach of his organization’s code of conduct by appointing four individuals who had publicly demonstrated ties to the Conservative Party of Canada or the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, without justification and nothing to demonstrate the appointments were merit-based. This gave the appearance of partisan appointments.
Individual’s employment terminated.
January - Parole Board of Canada
Former Regional Vice-Chairperson contravened legislation by placing himself in a conflict of interest situation regarding a decision on a file. He also breached the organization’s code of conduct by demonstrating inappropriate behaviour towards female employees in the workplace, criticizing Parole Board members to outside parties and disclosing information to individuals who were not authorized to receive it.
Individual was demoted during the course of the investigation; Minister responsible ordered an inquiry; organization ensured additional training was provided to all board members.
November - Canada School of Public Service
Former President of the Canada School of Public of Canada committed wrongdoing by breaching confidentiality provisions during an investigation under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Following recommendations made, organization took steps to establish proper procedures to protect confidentiality regarding disclosures of wrongdoing.
June - Blue Water Bridge Canada
Former CEO of Blue Water Bridge Canada committed serious breach of the code of conduct and misused public funds by awarding two excessive severance payouts to two managers of the organization who were married at the time.
CEO left the organization; organization implemented appropriate guidelines to address issue.
April - Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Former Chairperson of the CHRT committed gross mismanagement by harassing and abusing her staff and appointed members of the CHRT, disregarding advice and creating a dysfunctional workplace, which jeopardized the ability of the CHRT to fulfill its mandate.
Chairperson left the organization during the course of the investigation; recommendations made to organization to ensure workplace health issues were addressed.
March - Canada Border Services Agency
Border Services Officer breached a code of conduct and failed to fulfill his enforcement responsibilities by maintaining a social relationship with known organized crime figures. The officer failed to take enforcement action on these individuals as his duties required. The officer also attempted to evade the law during a police operation.
The Border Services Officer was dismissed.
February - Canadian International Development Agency
A Director General breached the code of conduct by engaging in private business activities and not disclosing them to the appropriate supervisor. Government property and assets were misused and the DG’s administrative staff were instructed to complete tasks related to these private business activities.
DG left organization; recommendations made to the Department to ensure similar wrongdoing does not reoccur.
October - Laurentian Pilotage Authority
Wrongdoing was committed by two senior officials who breached the Pilotage Act and Laurentian Pilotage Authority Regulations, by issuing two apprentice pilot permits to individuals who did not meet all criteria.
Breach occurred following unsuccessful recruitment efforts; Commissioner recommended measures be put in place to meet objectives set out in legislation.
March - Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Manager responsible for four regional offices committed wrongdoing, including contraventions of the Financial Administration Act, misuse of public funds and public assets, and gross mismanagement. Deficiencies were also found on the part of the Department regarding the lack of oversight mechanisms to ensure that department and Treasury Board policies and procedures were respected.
Manager left the organization, assets were recovered; Department implemented measures to ensure better oversight.