Governor General Julie Payette salutes during the march past during the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Privy Council Office launches workplace probe of Governor General’s office

The Privy Council Office (PCO) says it has launched a “thorough, independent and impartial” workplace probe into claims of harassment and verbal abuse in the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

The investigation follows a CBC News report that quoted unnamed sources saying Payette has created a toxic environment at Rideau Hall by verbally harassing employees to the point where some have been reduced to tears or left the office altogether.

“Harassment has no place in any professional workplace,” a spokesperson for the PCO wrote in a statement. “It is a public service priority to advance efforts to more effectively prevent and resolve issues of harassment.”

The PCO, in consultation with the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG), will retain the services of an independent third party to conduct the review, the statement said.

Payette said she is “deeply concerned” by the allegations levied against her office and welcomes the review.

“I am completely committed to ensuring that every employee who works at Rideau Hall enjoys a secure and healthy work environment at all times and under all circumstances,” she said in a statement. “I take harassment and workplace issues very seriously and I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review.”

Earlier Thursday, the head of a union representing civil service workers called for an independent examination of the employees’ claims.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) represents approximately 80 employees at Rideau Hall, including kitchen workers, cleaners, and maintenance and communications staff.

“Any claims of verbal abuse or harassment in the workplace are a top priority for the union to address,” said PSAC national president Chris Aylward.

With files from Ashley Burke of CBC News

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