The federal government has announced compensation for hundreds of current and former female RCMP members over claims of harassment and discrimination.
The settlement means any female RCMP member since September 16, 1974 until the agreement receives approval can make a claim for compensation.
“To all the women that have been impacted by the force’s failure to have protected your experience at work, and on behalf of every leader, supervisor or manager, every commissioner, I stand humbly before you today and solemnly offer our sincere apology,” said RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.
He apologized on behalf of the national force.
“For many of our women this discrimination and harassment has hurt them physically and mentally…their very lives have been affected,” said Paulson.
He says the settlement does not feature a cap but that approximately $100 million have been made available in anticipation of the process.
The settlement is still subject to approval by the court.
He was joined by key plaintiffs in the proposed class action suit against the force, Janet Merlo and Linda Gillis Davidson.
The suit has not been certified.
Lawyer David Klein says compensation will be given in six levels, depending on the claims.
He says the force expects around 1,000 female RCMP employees to come forward for compensation.
Key plaintiffs speak out
Linda Davidson says the process was long and difficult.
“There were certain things that I felt needed to be put forward to represent the women…it wasn’t an easy process.”
She says harassment should have no place in the force.
“Anyone who denigrates, bullies, harasses their colleagues within this organization or any other for that matter, have no place whatsoever in the RCMP and I do encourage women to come forward, things are changing. We are making waves into the future.”
Janet Merlo says it’s been a learning experience as women from different professions reached out to her to share their stories.
“This was a very good learning experience for me just to see how prevalent it is and that is not an RCMP thing only. And within the RCMP itself it seems like it was a minority, but it’s a potent minority that behaves this way.”
Allegations from former RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Catherine Galliford prompted hundreds of female members to come forward with similar complaints.
Galliford settled her sexual harassment civil suit against the force in May.
Paving the way
A Vancouver based psychiatrist says today’s apology sets a national standard that harassment in any workplace is not acceptable.
He has treated dozens of women who have suffered from a variety of harassment issues by RCMP and other local industries.
Dr. Greg Passey says he expects today’s landmark apology to spread out to other organizations.
While men also complain of abuse of power and harassment, he says a majority of his patients are women.
“I certainly seen harassment within firefighters, within other police forces. Even in Vancouver Coastal Health I’ve seen bullying and harassment there.”
Passey commends Catherine Galliford and Janet Merlo for going public with their experiences.
He calls their actions courageous and hopes other women who experience harassment will look them as role models.