Heavily redacted, it was released Wednesday night under the Access to Information Act less than a week after Payette and her secretary, Assunta Di Lorenzo, stepped down after parts of the report–prepared by a private firm–were leaked to the media.
The report confirms allegations from members of the Rideau Hall staff of “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations.”
The report, by the Quintet Consulting Corporation, was commissioned by the Privy Council, the body that oversees the federal civil service, after CBC News reported last July that sources at Rideau Hall said Payette had created a toxic environment by verbally harassing employees to the point where some had been reduced to tears or left the office altogether.
Quintet Consulting interviewed 92 current and former employees and other “knowledgeable individuals” at Rideau Hall.
According to the report:
- Forty-three staff members described the general work environment as “hostile or negative.”
- Twenty-six of the people interviewed “used the words ‘toxic’ or ‘poisoned’ to describe the general work atmosphere” at Rideau Hall during Payette’s time there.
- At least 17 participants said they left their roles and another 13 took sick leave during Payette’s mandate because of the work environment.
- Fewer than 10 participants described positive or neutral feelings about the work environment.
The report concluded that “there is a serious problem that requires [the Privy Council Office’s] immediate attention.”
It also noted: “The independent report’s goal was to determine the scope of the problem. The authors of the report did not attempt to make findings of fact; the document only relies on what interview participants reported.”
In a media statement announcing her resignation last week, Payette apologized for what she called the “tensions” at Rideau Hall in recent months, saying that everyone has “a right to a healthy and safe work environment.”
“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously,” Payette said.
The workplace review and Payette’s departure have turned into a political headache for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who appointed Payette, a former astronaut, to the position in 2017.
The prime minister has been forced to field questions about the process of vetting potential governors general as well as the nearly $150,000 annuity she-like all vice-regals–are entitled to when they leave the post.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner is currently overseeing the role’s key constitutional powers until a new governor general is appointed.
Trudeau spoke to the Queen last Friday to inform her of the change.
With files from CBC News (Peter Zimonjic, Ryan Patrick Jones, Ashley Burke, Kristen Everson, Catharine Tunney ), The Canadian Press, RCI (Levon Sevunts)