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 to 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.

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