The federal government has hired an Ottawa-based private corporation to conduct a review of the workplace concerns raised by past and current employees of Governor-General Julie Payette’s office.
The Privy Council Office said Monday that Quintet Consulting Corporation’s mandate will be to independently investigate and draft a report on the nature of concerns within the Office of the Secretary to the Governor-General (OSGG).
“Both current and former employees of the OSGG will be invited by the firm to voluntarily and confidentially share their perspectives,” the PCO said.
Quintet Consulting Corporation says it has an expertise in conflict management and prevention, including conducting administrative investigations.
The corporation’s president, Raphael Szajnfarber, said in a statement to The Globe on Tuesday that Quintet will deliver a confidential report to PCO on the nature of any potential concerns in the OSGG, adding the company will carry out the review in a confidential manner and no further comments will be made about the process.
The review was first announced in July after media reports detailed allegations about the Governor-General’s behaviour.
CBC News reported that sources said Ms. Payette created a toxic environment at Rideau Hall by verbally harassing employees to the point where some have been reduced to tears or have left the office altogether.
“Harassment has no place in any professional workplace,” the PCO said in a statement at the time announcing the probe. “We take all questions of harassment very seriously.”
On July 23, Ms. Payette said in a statement that she take harassment and workplace issues very seriously.
“I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review,” she said.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc will oversee the review.
The PCO said he is expected to receive Quintet Consulting Corporation’s final report later this fall.
In the terms of reference, the PCO said the independent third-party reviewer will inform participants of the contents of the review that will not be released publicly unless required to do so by law and that information will be handled in accordance with requirements of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
A review report must be submitted to the office including an executive summary of the scope of the review and the conclusions.
If allegations of harassment have been made, the PCO says the report needs to include a description of the nature of the incidents and whether they meet the definition of harassment on a legally sufficient basis.
It says that if allegations of behaviours leading to a toxic work environment have been made, the report needs to include a description of the nature of the allegations.
The review report will also include recommendations on next steps.
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said Tuesday the allegations of harassment at Rideau Hall are deeply concerning, adding he has met Ms. Payette a number of times and he has enormous respect for her. But he said she represents the Canadian people and has to meet the highest standards.
Mr. Angus said he also understands there are privacy provisions in harassment investigations because those coming forward need to know that their rights will be protected.
He said he is asking Mr. LeBlanc to promise to release the overall recommendations of what is found in the review and for the minister to commit publicly to taking any actions required.
“I want to know that Minister LeBlanc is going to represent the concerns of the Canadian people first and foremost and not try and slip this under the carpet,” he said.
Mr. LeBlanc’s office declined to comment further on Tuesday and directed any further inquiries to PCO.
With a report from Bill Curry
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