All posts tagged Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Sylvie Therrien, 2014 Golden Whistle Award Winner

Last Monday, POGG Canada and Canadians for Accountability awarded the seventh annual Golden Whistle Award. This Award is presented annually to honour a whistleblower for integrity, courage, and resolve in the service of “Peace, Order and Good Government”. As usual, there were a number of worthy candidates, but unfortunately only one can be chosen. This year, the award went to Sylvie Therrien, a former employee who blew the whistle on a grossly unethical policy targeting employment insurance claimants.

When she started her job as a federal Employment Insurance fraud investigator, Ms. Therrien was surprised to find out that the main – perhaps only – measure of her performance was whether she had met her target for cutting off EI claimants on the basis of fraud: $35,000-$40,000 per month. If she had been able to meet those targets using  only those who had actually committed fraud, it’s likely we would never have heard of her. By her estimate, only a very small minority were actual fraud cases – as low as one in twenty.

Rather than assessing each case on the basis of its merits and assuming innocence until proven guilty, she and other fraud inspectors were told to comb through people lives to find any excuse to cut benefits.… Read the rest

Bullying in the federal government out of control

Today I thought I would highlight a series of stories have come out of Ottawa in the past week. They pertain to bullying and mobbing in the government workplace.

The story that triggered this was that of Zabia Chamberlain, who was a low-level executive being harassed and bullied by her boss. When she tried to do something about it, the senior bureaucracy closed ranks and pushed her out of her job.

They did this using the particularly nasty technique called mobbing. Mobbing involves ganging up on another person in the workplace in order to force that person out. Tactics can include shunning, malicious comments, exclusion from important events, and many other actions. Participants do so out of malice, to avoid being targeted themselves, and out of ignorance. Part of the process involves imagining the target as less than a real person – as somehow deserving of the treatment.

Being the social creatures that we are, it’s a particularly effective and inhumane tactic that is favoured by bullies. Whistleblowers are routinely subjected to it.

Unfortunately, many of the things done aren’t recognized as harassment. As a result, victims are left defenceless.

You may wonder why the average Canadian should care. Well, the simple answer is that it costs money – a lot of money.… Read the rest

Media Update for October 21, 2010

News Summary and Comment:

Today’s lead story is a big one for Canadians for Accountability: The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimet, has retired. It’s not just a routine retirement, either. The Auditor General has been called in to investigate her (former) office, leading one to speculate about whether Ms. Ouimet was pushed or jumped. Allan Cutler, our President, will have more to say about this in The Hill Times on Monday.

It turns out that I was wrong in my last media update – very wrong. I said that the deal reached with two political aides in the BC Rail corruption trial would save the taxpayers money. It turns out that as part of the plea deal, $6 million in legal fees were waived. The government, and especially Premier Gordon Campbell, claim that it was because they would never be able to pay the money back. But others smell a rat: they argue that the deal was intended to keep damaging information about Campbell’s government from getting out, and point to the confidentiality clause as proof. I tend to agree – Campbell doth protest too much, methinks.

Back in Ottawa, RCMP Commissioner Bill Elliot continues to consolidate his power and push out those who protested against his abusive management back in July (see my July 29 post).… Read the rest