The CHRT: hellhole

As noted by my colleague below, working conditions at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are, apparently, quite awful. According to the Ottawa Citizen:

More than half of the 25-member staff, including middle and senior level managers, have left, taken sick leave or retired over the past year. At least three have filed formal harassment complaints.

Unions representing workers confirmed they received numerous complaints of abuse of authority, intimidation and personal harassment. They say employees describe a work environment that has deteriorated “to the point of toxicity.”

The situation in the tribunal sounds strikingly similar to the poisoned workplace Auditor General Sheila Fraser found when she investigated the Public Sector Integrity Office under the leadership of retired commissioner Christiane Ouimet, said Milt Isaacs, president of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers.

The leaders of three federal unions have taken the unusual step of working together to get an independent investigation into the conflict and to find ways to resolve it.

“We’ve tried to be co-operative. We’re not looking for a head on a stick. We just want an outside agency to do an independent workplace assessment to see what we’re dealing with and make the changes needed,” said John Edmunds, president of the Union of Solicitor General Employees.

“There’s a toxic work environment. As an employer, you would think they would want to find solutions.”

In a statement, the tribunal’s executive director Frederick Gloade wouldn’t comment on specific complaints.

He acknowledged “workplace and human resource problems” some of which he said are “complex and go back some time.”

Where to begin? There’s bad news and good news, here. Let’s start with the good.

The Good

The good news coming out of this story is that the CHRT is a dysfunctional organization. This, combined with the deadlock surrounding Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, means that the CHRT is, theoretically at least, less and less able to do its job.

Great. Wonderful. It might not be legislative review, parliamentary censure, or outright dismantling, but the CHRT is, apparently, becoming less and less effectual with each passing day. For critics like me, that’s a nice ( belated ) Christmas present.

The Bad

The bad news is also sort of good news – kinda – because this story means that the CHRT, the quasi-judicial body originally tasked with, mainly, workplace disputes, is rife with workplace disputes.

How awesome is that? Again, the critic in me enjoys the sheer schadenfreude and dysfunction. But another part of me kind of despairs: because dysfunctional as it is, and as inept as the CHRT is at solving its own workplace disputes, it is still charged with managing the workplace disputes of everyone else that the CHRC deems worthy of being dragged through quasi-judicial hell.

And that’s not good for anyone.

Last word

Last word goes to Andrew Phillips, who writes, in an email sent out via his mailing list:

My letter to the Ottawa Citizen concerning the CHRC Toxic environment

With the information as to the toxic environment at the CHRC I think this is a good issue for Elizabeth May and Green Party. The corrosive nature of all the Human Rights Commissions have on free speech presents a clear and present danger to free speech environment in Canada. While this toxicity is effecting the employees directly the overall effect on the nation of the CHRC’s very existence is a direct threat to us all. This would be a good time to see the environmental movements belief in the “precautionary principal” put to good use for a change.

Andrew Phillips



5 Responses to The CHRT: hellhole

  1. Observer says:

    I don’t find any of this at all surprising.

    The situation at the CHRT mirrors that of the CHRC and the Canada Public Service Ethics Ommission :) – for the staffing patterns and hiring criteria are so much the same.

    Abuse of authority, lack of accountability and an over riding sense of entitlement and Right have resulted in so many of the abuses.

    Just look at the travel claims of the CHRC Deputy from Winnipeg. Commutes weekly???

    And where there were abuses – even as far as staffers not being honest and forthright with the CHRT- no disciplinary action occured.

    Now, that to is no surprise either given the recent finding that a federal CBSA staffer who was viewing and posting on PORN sites for many hours per day on company time can keep his job.

    If Harper continues to let this happen, Civil/public Servants may soon rank up there in the most dishonest jobs as Lawyers, politicians and used car salesman.

  2. Rose says:

    Now they know who the respondants felt being dragged through a roo court for fake human right’s abuses. Every single new case will be judged by the court of public opinion, they can’t hide their fake human rights’ agenda anymore. You do not have the Human Right to not be offended, or you shouldn’t have that fake human right.

  3. The situation at the CHRT mirrors that of the CHRC and the Canada Public Service Ethics Ommission :) – for the staffing patterns and hiring criteria are so much the same.

    Absolutely. That’s the problem when people get into these entitlement jobs that they can’t lose, no matter their performance. Throw some actual, competent employees into the mix, who are under pressure from their bosses and surrounded by people not doing their jobs – I can see how that would be quite stressful.

  4. Now they know who the respondants felt being dragged through a roo court for fake human right’s abuses.

    Yeah. The turn-around’s pretty delicious right now.

  5. […] 10-Jan-2011; Here’s what the HRCs, despite their toxic workplaces, are up to today; The CHRT: A veritable hellhole …. […]

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