June 26, 2017
$1.6M for private eyes to probe government harassment complaints
By Monique Scotti – http://globalnews.ca/
Since late 2015, the government of Canada has spent at least $1.6 million on outside private investigators to look into allegations of workplace harassment across various departments, Crown corporations and agencies.
Documents tabled last week in the House of Commons reveal that workplace harassment complaints are the most common reason the federal government seeks outside help from private eyes. And there is at least some indication that these contracts are being awarded because departments don’t have the internal resources to handle every complaint.
Of the nine bodies that issued contracts for this purpose, the Department of National Defence has easily spent the most money.
Since November 2015, DND’s bills for private investigations into harassment came to $526,340, with the largest contract costing $69,722 and the smallest $5,214. At least one contract, awarded this past winter and costing about $6,500, involved sexual harassment allegations that were discovered to be founded.
The department has been making a concerted effort over the last two years to crack down on what has been described as an entrenched culture of harassment, inappropriate workplace behaviour and misogyny.
According to DND spokesperson Daniel Le Bouthillier, Canada’s military police still investigate any criminal or service offences involving alleged harassment. But “harassment that does not meet the criminal or service offence threshold is investigated through other means.”
In order to ensure a certain standard of service, he explained, “we sometimes contract out such investigative services to third-party organizations.”
Asked if this meant that DND’s internal resources aren’t adequate to handle the volume of complaints, Le Bouthillier said he wouldn’t call the resources “inadequate.”
“There are several contractors in that list (of private investigator contracts) that are from areas such as Nova Scotia, Edmonton and Toronto. We wouldn’t have internal resources in those places to address these types of issues, so it makes more sense to contract out. It’s a bit of a niche area of work so we do it in a way that delivers results while being cost-effective.”
Last fall, DND opened the four local Complaint Management Services centres on a trial basis to help handle more complaints internally. Le Bouthillier said they are “yielding positive results.” Over the next few years, similar centres are expected to open their doors at military bases across Canada.
After DND, the second biggest spender on private workplace harassment investigations appears to be Health Canada, where the value of contracts totalled $279,874. (The department did not confirm if that amount has actually been spent yet, and some investigations may still be ongoing.)
The third biggest total was at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), where actual spending as of last month sat at $256,911.
Full Article can be read at: http://globalnews.ca/news/3555602/1-6m-for-private-eyes-to-probe-government-harassment-complaints/
Cost of private investigations into harassment
Department of National Defence (spent as of June 2017): $526,340
Health Canada (contracted as of June 2017): $279,874
Employment/Social Development Canada (spent): $256,911
Global Affairs Canada (spent): $159,493
Canada Revenue Agency (spent): $152,557
Privy Council Office (contracted): $138,953
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (contracted): $46,578
Parole Board of Canada (spent): $35,546
Public Safety Canada (spent): $17,625