News / Canada

Federal executive verbally abused staff with tirades, profanity: watchdog

OTTAWA — An executive who worked at the Public Health Agency of Canada verbally abused staff and other government employees, says a federal watchdog who investigated a whistleblower's complaint.

The former employee was prone to tirades and outbursts of violent rage and used unprofessional language that included screaming and profanity, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Joe Friday says.

The behaviour amounted to a serious breach of the Public Health Agency’s code of conduct, Friday's report concluded. 

The commissioner's office decided not to reveal the executive's name or even their gender, said Edith Lachapelle, a spokeswoman for Friday.

"We did not want to focus the attention on one individual's bad behaviour, because the commissioner doesn't feel that it's an isolated incident," she said.

"And he wants to make sure that the message is sent out that that kind of behaviour is unacceptable throughout the entire public sector."

The executive moved to another government department during the commissioner's investigation, which began in May 2014.

Friday informed the new department of the findings and recommended that disciplinary measures be taken.

He says the new employer, also unnamed in the report, has concluded that disciplinary action is warranted.

Friday's report says that although Public Health Agency managers initially acted on harassment complaints about the executive, they should have done more follow-up.

He recommends the agency's senior management review their procedures to address the shortfalls and take steps to foster a harassment-free environment.

The agency says it has put in place several measures to encourage a healthy and respectful workplace.

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