Ontario Improving OPP Workplace Culture
Creating a healthier, more supportive work environment for officers and civilian staff
ORILLIA — Today, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Thomas Carrique, announced how Ontario is improving the workplace culture of the OPP to create a healthier, more inclusive work environment where members feel supported and are able to thrive.
The changes respond to recommendations outlined in the final report of the Ontario Provincial Police Independent Review Panel, which was established in April 2019 to examine the OPP's workplace culture and how the force addresses staff mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members.
Together, the Ontario government and the OPP have already taken steps to address some of the report's main recommendations, which include:
Making health and wellness an organizational priority by:
- Realigning both the Healthy Workplace Implementation Team and the Wellness Unit under the Field Operations Command this past December to create the Healthy Workplace Team to enable a more member-centred approach to workplace health.
- Establishing a provincial Commissioner's Healthy Workplace Advisory group in addition to regional engagement tables to provide guidance and input on policies and programming related to mental health.
Fostering new leadership and leadership skills training by:
- Making changes and enhancements to leadership training and activities so that teaching is focused on fostering a people-centred approach that promotes a healthy and inclusive workplace.
- Updating management performance plans so that they reflect these new expectations.
- Revising promotional practices to ensure a fair and transparent selection of individuals with proven leadership capacity.
Developing programs that de-stigmatize stress and mental health issues by:
- Establishing OPP-wide strategies to support members when they return to work after a leave of absence.
- Creating an organization-wide response to member suicide that includes supports to families and colleagues.
"The OPP is committed to making meaningful changes for our members, who are dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of our province. With an organization of nearly 9,000 members deployed across Ontario, it will take leadership, time and support to ensure we get things right," said Commissioner Thomas Carrique. "We are pleased to work in partnership and with the support of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Provincial Police Association. Together, we can make effective changes to sustain a healthy and inclusive workplace."
This important work builds on steps taken by the Ontario government in March 2019 in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) to create a new integrated mental health support program to help OPP personnel and their families deal with work-related stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program, fully funded by the government and run by the OPPA, is expected to be operational later this year.
"The OPPA would like to extend a sincere thank you to the panel for engaging in an open dialogue and permitting many of our recommendations to help shape this report. Working together with the employer to improve the mental health and wellness of our members, both active and retired, is of paramount importance," said Rob Jamieson, President of the OPPA. "The initiation of this panel, in addition to fully funding the upcoming OPPA Mental Health Wellness Program, demonstrates this government's commitment to those who keep Ontarians safe every day."
"The Commissioned Officers Association (COA) membership is a committed partner to effecting positive change to the OPP's workplace culture," said Inspector Mary Shannon, President of the COA. "We will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure the health and well-being of all members as we continue to serve and protect our communities with pride."
"The Civilian Association of Managers and Specialists (CAMS) would like to thank the panel members for their time and efforts over the past eight months," said Amanda Weaver, President of the CAMS. "CAMS is encouraged by the panel's findings. We look forward to participating in the work towards positive change at the OPP and working closely with Commissioner Carrique, the Commissioner's Command Team, the OPPA, the COA and the Ontario Provincial Police Veterans' Association in moving forward together."
- The creation of the Independent Review Panel was prompted by recent suicide deaths of OPP members as well as complaints about the workplace culture by active and former OPP staff.
- The panel met with the OPP Commissioner, member associations and current and former OPP members who shared their personal experiences and insights, as well as families of members who died by suicide. In addition, the panel received over 5,000 surveys and 250 email submissions completed by current and former OPP members.
- Of the panel’s 66 recommendations, 42 are already being implemented and 24 are being actively explored.
- These recommendations complement those made in the OPP Suicide Review, the OPP Mental Health Roundtable Review as well as the Chief Coroner’s Expert Panel Report, which looked into the deaths of nine police officers from services across the province in 2018.