The independent report probing Julie Payette’s conduct at Rideau Hall and the office’s atmosphere alleges the former governor general and her deputy assistant oversaw a ‘toxic’ and ‘poisoned’ work environment.
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According to the report released by on Wednesday, several staff members alleged “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations,” had occurred at Rideau Hall.
“As summarized in the Report, many participants reported conduct that , if it occurred, would lead to a toxic workplace,” the report said.
It’s heavily redacted, primarily to protect participants’ privacy, and whole pages of details are blacked out or removed.
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The independent consulting firm Quintet Consulting Corp., was hired by the Privy Council Office in July after reports surfaced alleging incidents of workplace harassment at Rideau Hall.
The report said 26 individuals described the general work atmosphere at Rideau Hall during Payette’s tenure as “toxic” or “poisoned.”
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Forty-three participants described the general work environment as hostile, negative or other words to that effect,” the report said.
According to the report, eight participants said “used the expressions climate/reign of fear/terror” and 12 participants said they were “walking on eggshells.”
Twenty people claimed they had witnessed harassment in the workplace or referred to harassing behaviours in the office.
The report also said 17 employees said they left Rideau Hall during Payette’s tenure “because of the work environment at the OSGG.”
Another 13 said they took sick leave due to the work atmosphere.
The report’s authors said it does not make “findings of fact or determine whether (the) reported conduct took place.”
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The former astronaut was appointed governor general in 2017 on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recommendation.
The report was released just days after Payette resigned from the post.
In a statement released after she stepped down from the post, Payette said, “everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances.”
“It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General,” the statement read.
“Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry.”
“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously,” she continued.
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In a statement of his own, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that the chief justice of Canada would take over the duties of the governor general on an “interim basis.”
The authors of the report also included a number of recommendations for “next steps and future actions” to be taken by the Privy Council’s Office and Rideau Hall.
The report said the office of the Privy Council should continue to “exercise vigilance and oversight” over Rideau Hall until the work environment is “firmly on the road to recovery.”
“The situation at (Rideau Hall) as reported by participants in this review is said to have existed for several years,” the report said.
“A general rule of thumb in the resolution of circumstances described in this report is that it can be expected to take just as much time to heal the situation as it took for it to develop.”
Quintet also said “mandatory and meaningful” exit interviews should be conducted by “senior personnel” with anyone who chooses to leave their job Rideau Hall until stability has been restored.
“Such exit interviews would consider especially issues relating to the health of the workplace; any necessary feedback to the OSGG to address such issues should be monitored by the PCO to ensure effective resolution,” the report said.
The authors also recommend that current employees be thanked for participating in the review.
-With a file from the Canadian Press
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