(Canadian OH&S News) — Following the announcement of occupational health and safety charges being levelled against the RCMP, a spokesperson for the association representing Canadian Mounties says that officers are remaining silent on workplace concerns out of fear of retribution.
“We have RCMP members that, literally, are too afraid to tell the Canadian public about their workplace,” said Rob Creasser, spokesperson for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC).
Publicly criticizing the RCMP is “a career-ending move”, according to Creasser, a retired member of the force. “Even if you don’t lose your job, which you could do, any career aspirations you have were probably wiped off the map.”
The MPPAC has called for the resignation of RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson for his role in the alleged labour breaches, which were announced on May 15. The charges stem from the incident in Moncton, New Brunswick, on June 4 of last year, when three RCMP officers were shot and killed and two other officers were wounded. Following the event, the RCMP completed an independent review, which issued 64 recommendations to the force.
“Because of the way he [Paulson] has handled the Moncton tragedy and the way he has been involved in the breach of the Privacy Act, he shouldn’t be where he is,” said Creasser.
The RCMP is being charged by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada with: failure to provide its members with appropriate use-of-force equipment and user training when responding to an active threat or active shooter event; failure to provide its members with necessary information, instruction and/or training when responding to an active threat or active shooter event; failure to provide its supervisory personnel with appropriate information, instruction and/or training when responding to an active threat or active shooter event; and failure to ensure, in general, the health and safety of its members.
The police association applauded the move to lay charges in a statement issued on May 15, and Creasser said that he hoped the charges would improve safety within the RCMP.
He claimed that in addition to a lack of equipment, training and supervision during the Moncton shooting, the Commissioner is guilty of breaking the law by breaching the Privacy Act. When the RCMP launched a complaint regarding former staff psychologist Dr. Mike Webster, RCMP members’ identities and medical records, such as diagnoses, treatment plans and prognoses were disclosed to the College of Psychologists, Creasser explained.
“We’re well aware that Commissioner Paulson was also involved in that,” Creasser said. “[We are] asking that the Commissioner and other high-ranking senior executives be held to account, and one of the ways you do that is you ask them to step down.”
Paulson declined to comment for this story. In a statement issued on May 14, Paulson said that the police would carefully examine the charges before making any decisions.
“As our honour roll sadly confirms, there has always been – and sadly will continue to be – deadly threats to police officers,” he said in the statement.
“The safety of our employees in doing this dangerous job, protecting the public, is always our priority.”
But according to Creasser, the RCMP’s commitment to safety is “in word only.”
“There has been no actions to show that that is their number one concern. How can you talk about safety being job one, when you’re constantly slashing budgets that are required to properly train and equip your people?”
Creasser cited a number of health and safety issues within the force, including equipping general-duty members with high-powered, mid-sized rifles and hard body armour, as well as dealing with general understaffing.
When a federal employee dies on the job, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) normally conducts an investigation. This is the third time that the RCMP has been charged with labour violations, according to ESDC.
The first court date is set for July 9 at the Moncton Provincial Courthouse, with Paul Adams acting as Crown Counsel.