Public servants tired of 'toxic' workplace

Jan. 10, 2011 at 8:23 PM
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OTTAWA, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Some Canadian public servants, saying they're tired of "toxic" workplaces, want better screening of the political appointees who are their bosses.

Government auditors report nationwide complaints about superiors at Canadian agencies upholding human rights.

Unions say they have fielded a barrage of complaints from workers at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal alleging abuse of authority, intimidation and personal harassment.

The Ottawa Citizen reported more than half of the 25 middle and senior level managers have departed or taken stress leave in the past year. At least three people have filed formal harassment charges against Chairwoman Shirish Chotalia.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser said she found similar problems when she checked out harassment complaints against Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet, the newspaper said Sunday.

"When half of the staff at the human rights tribunal disappears, that's alarming," said Milt Isaacs, president of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers.

"When you see smoke like that, it should be investigated and there should be a more extensive vetting of these people's management style. They may be great experts and know human rights, but that doesn't make them good managers," Isaacs said.

Penny Collenette, former director of appointments for the Chretien government, said candidates aren't usually screened for their people management skills and they receive no training on how government works.

"The knowledge people must or should have about unions, dealing with the public service and managing people is never part of the job description and we see it time and time again."

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