Ailing Mounties face easierl dismissal under new rules

OTTAWA — The RCMP is making it simpler to release officers with serious medical problems, prompting fears that many ill members will be sent packing without due process or the means to fight their dismissal.

OTTAWA — The RCMP is making it simpler to release officers with serious medical problems, prompting fears that many ill members will be sent packing without due process or the means to fight their dismissal.

Under the old rules an officer who protested a medical discharge because of mental or physical disability could remain on the payroll until the matter was settled.

New regulations, slated to take effect in June, say a decision as to whether to release or demote a member will not be put on hold while a grievance works its way through the system.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the more streamlined procedures, which flow from legislation passed last year aimed at modernizing the force.

The Conservative government argued the changes would permit the force to promptly deal with grievances that often fester for years, hurting workplace morale and leaving careers in limbo. Critics, including the NDP, said the measures placed too much power in RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson’s hands and would only worsen relations with members.

Cpl. Roland Beaulieu, a B.C. Mountie on stress leave, says he became ill in 2001 when supervisors refused to properly address his complaints about issues including unpaid overtime and lack of promotion.

He recently received a message from the force saying it was taking the first step toward medically discharging him, and he knows of two others who just got notices. He suspects that when the new regulations take effect, “they’re going to punt a lot of people that are off in the same situation that I am.”

“It gives them carte blanche to say, ’You’re out of here.”’

Paulson sought new disciplinary powers to deal with “bad apples” — including rogue officers — more swiftly, said Gerry Hoyland, a former Mountie now helping several other officers with grievances.

“Instead, the government has provided him the means of medically discharging members much more easily,” said Hoyland, who fought his own battles with the police force over on-the-job harassment.

“I know from past experiences that the new medical discharge process will not be fair.”

Cpl. David Falls, an RCMP spokesman, said procedural fairness would be respected, adding the legislation “does not provide for members to be summarily discharged.”

Under the new rules, discharge boards or hearings will no longer exist. The member will be given notice by a senior officer, relevant information in RCMP files and the opportunity to make written submissions. The senior officer may agree to hear oral arguments.

Rules posted on the RCMP’s internal human-resources Infoweb say a medically discharged member may grieve the decision, and the outcome of the grievance can be independently scrutinized by an oversight body, the RCMP External Review Committee.

But the decision to discharge someone will not be put on hold while a grievance plays out, the rules say.

As Cpl. Jeff Whipple knows, the grievance process can be lengthy.

Whipple, who suffers from post-traumatic stress over the infamous shooting in Mayerthorpe, Alta. — in which four colleagues were killed — is protesting his release from the police force for medical reasons.

He is the second Mountie grappling with emotional fallout from the 2005 event that the RCMP has moved to medically discharge — a process Whipple alleges was done behind his back in violation of force rules.

Whipple was among the first on the horrific Mayerthorpe shooting scene. But he says his difficulties began later due to lack of understanding and proper care from his employer as he tried to come to terms with the tragedy.

“My hurt, pain, is from what they did after the incident — not the incident,” he said in an interview.

In 2009, Whipple sued the RCMP. Three years later the force discharged him on medical grounds, which he grieved, alleging lack of due process including denial of access to files he needed to argue his case.

“They just don’t take responsibility,” he said. “They don’t look after their people.”

Paulson insisted last year the idea was to care for injured and ill Mounties with the primary objective helping them return to policing.

“And where we can’t do that, then we have to work with them to try and find them employment within the organization — or ultimately help them make the adjustment,” he told The Canadian Press.

“We just have to face that some people get to a situation where they’re not in a position to contribute at work anymore.”

Falls said it’s in no one’s interest to have members on protracted medical leave.

“We owe it to our fellow officers who rely on each other for support and backup to manage our workforce responsibly,” he said. “That is why we cannot, in good conscience, pay a full salary indefinitely to an employee whose health prevents them from performing duties within the RCMP.”

Just Posted

Trains no longer blow leading up to the controlled crossing at 49th Avenue in Innisfail. (Photo contributed by the Town of Innisfail)
Innisfail says goodbye to train whistles

Whistles eliminated at four crossings

Red Deer College has been upgrading roofing, mechanical control systems, and lighting with $13 million in capital maintenance funding from the province. (Photo by Advocate staff)
$13 million in maintenance work underway at Red Deer College

Projects improve teaching, learning, and working spaces

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waits to take his seat at the EU-Canada Summit Monday June 14, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to visit Pfizer on final day of international pandemic trip, begin quarantine

WTO looks at making it easier for developing countries to import expertise, equipment and ingredients for vaccines

Houses under construction in Toronto on Friday, June 26, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CMHC says annual pace of housing starts rose 3.2 per cent in May compared with April

Starts for apartments, condos and other multiple-unit housing projects rose

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2013 file photo, customers leave an IKEA store in Plaisir, west of Paris. A French court has ordered home furnishings giant Ikea to pay more than $1.2 million in fines and damages Tuesday, June 15, 2021 over a campaign to spy on union representatives. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, FIle)
Ikea fined $1.3 million over spying campaign in France

Convicted of receiving personal data obtained through fraudulent means in a habitual way

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

A man uses the Ethereum ATM, beside a Bitcoin ATM, in Hong Kong on May 11, 2018. The federal financial intelligence centre warns that violent extremists driven by racial hatred and other ideologies are increasingly turning to virtual currencies for fundraising. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kin Cheung
Violent extremists driven by ideology turning to virtual currencies: federal centre

OTTAWA — The federal financial intelligence centre warns that violent extremists driven… Continue reading

A coal mining operation in Sparwood, B.C., is shown on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. A lengthy new report commissioned by landowners near proposed new Alberta coal mines concludes mines would create environmental liabilities that exceed their economic benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Study warns Alberta has failed to consider damage to foothills from coal mining

A lengthy new report commissioned by landowners near proposed Alberta coal mines… Continue reading

Children's shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Ontario is committing $10 million over three years to identify, investigate and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Governments should come together to collaborate paid sick leave in Canada

If we let our guard down, COVID-19 is highly transmissible and will… Continue reading

Finnish players celebrate with their fans after the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, June 12, 2021. Finland won 1-0. (Friedemann Vogel/Pool via AP)
Finland plays Russia with Euro 2020 knockout stage in reach

Finns played in their first ever game at a major soccer tournament

Scotland’s Allan Dell (1) is tackled by Canada’s Matt Heaton (7) and Lucas Rumball (6) during first half action of men’s international rugby in Edmonton, Alta., on June 9, 2018. Heaton, of Rugby ATL, Ben LeSage and Lucas Rumball, both of the Toronto Arrows, will co-captain Canada next month for rugby test matches in Wales and England. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canada names 30-man roster for July rugby internationals against Wales, England

July test marks the first games for Canadian men since October 2019 at the Rugby World Cup

Most Read