Gov.Gen Julie Payette walks in the chamber after greeting Senators before delivering the Speech from the Throne, at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Gov.Gen Julie Payette walks in the chamber after greeting Senators before delivering the Speech from the Throne, at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Report details yelling, screaming and aggressive conduct at Rideau Hall under Payette

Report says employees did not feel they had a place to go with their complaints

Julie Payette’s resignation as governor general was prompted by a scathing review of the work environment she presided over at Rideau Hall, described by dozens of people as hostile, toxic, or poisoned.

The government released the findings of the independent review conducted by Quintet Consulting Corp. on Wednesday evening.

The report is heavily redacted, primarily to protect participants’ privacy, and whole pages of details are blacked out or removed.

Still, the report says Quintet heard allegations of “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliation” — behaviour that was “repeated and persistent.”

Representative descriptions of the work environment at Rideau Hall included phrases such as “the definition of a poisoned work environment,” “humiliation,” “disrespect” and “condescension,” the report says.

If the alleged conduct occurred as described, the report says “by any objective standard,” it would “lead to a toxic workplace.”

“Quintet concludes that there is a serious problem that requires PCO (Privy Council Office) immediate attention.”

Payette resigned last Thursday, one week after the government received the report from Quintet. It was commissioned by the Privy Council Office to look into CBC reports that Payette and her secretary, Assunta Di Lorenzo, had presided over a toxic workplace. Di Lorenzo also resigned.

READ MORE: Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Quintet interviewed 92 current and former employees and “knowledgeable individuals” who had worked with Rideau Hall during Payette’s tenure.

“Fewer than 10 participants … reported only positive or neutral information about the work environment,” the report says.

“However, the overwhelming majority of participants described experiences that would objectively be considered ‘concerns and allegations,’” the report says.

Specifically, 43 participants “described the general work environment as hostile, negative or other words to that effect.”

Twenty-six “specifically used the words ‘toxic’ or ‘poisoned.’” Eight “used the expressions climate/reign of fear/terror and 12 participants said they were ‘walking on eggshells.’” the report says.

As well, 20 participants “reported having witnessed harassment in their workplace or referred to harassing behaviours in the workplace.”

Seventeen participants reported that they left their jobs during Payette’s tenure because of the work environment — at least 16 in less than a year. Another 13 reported taking sick leave.

Still, Quintet says it received only one formal complaint about harassment, which was unrelated to the issue it was hired to investigate.

The review did not make any findings of fact or determine whether the reported conduct actually took place. However, the report notes that there was “considerable overlap and consistency” to the allegations made by participants.

It says employees did not feel they had a place to go with their complaints, that human resources practices at Rideau Hall were inadequate. Staff had reported problems to management but “little or no change resulted.”

Payette has admitted to no specific wrongdoing. She said in a statement last week that she was resigning for the good of the institution.

READ MORE: Payette fiasco shows need for stronger GG vetting process: LeBlanc

Joan Bryden and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Payette

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The future of the Cache Creek pool is still up in the air as council ponders different options and cost considerations. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
No decision about whether Cache Creek pool will open in 2021

Council still discussing pool’s future; no date set for public meeting about its fate

More people at home during the pandemic is probably one of the reasons for a spike in water usage in Ashcroft in 2020. (Photo credit: Pixabay)
Ashcroft residents urged to conserve water after usage spike in 2020

Water consumption in 2020 increased by 14 per cent over previous year

Sandbagging materials outside an Emergency Operations Centre in Cache Creek in April 2020, after flooding prompted several evacuation alerts and orders in the community. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek council asks for more info about alert system

Decision about joining emergency notification system deferred to next meeting

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Most Read