WIDE RANGING RULING AIMED AT FIXING RACISM IN CORRECTIONS: McKinnon v. MCS
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A Human Rights Commission Adjudicator has ruled that the Ministry of Correctional Services has failed to comply with a 1998 order requiring training of managers. The training was needed to clean up the discriminatory workplace of an aboriginal employee of the Ministry, Michael McKinnon. The adjudicator finds that, since
1998, there has been a series of incidents which demonstrate "the atmosphere of the Metro East Detention Centre remains racially poisoned".
The adjudicator orders wide ranging training, external investigators, and ongoing monitoring of how the Ministry deals with discrimination complaints.
In the 1998 decision, the adjudicator ordered timely Ministry delivery of a training program designed to address ongoing racism in the Ministry generally and in the employee's particular workplace. The adjudicator finds that the training program eventually offered was too little, too late. The time limit for the program had
been imposed "for the protection of the complainant who ought not to have been left to languish in that poisoned atmosphere at the whim of a Ministry that failed to take timely action and a [Human Rights] Commission that failed to make sure it did". The training program was to be mainly for managers, be focussed on racial discrimination and carried out
at and for the particular workplace. That was not done. "The Ministry's failure to fulfill its obligation ...requires the reconstruction of the original order and the making of ancillary orders that take into account the unabated victimization of the complainant by a failure that perpetuates the discrimination and calls for additional measures to prevent
The Human Rights Commission is also found to be "deeply implicated" by neglecting to monitor the situation, by late acceptance of an inappropriate programme and by "leaving the complainant vulnerable to the mischief it knew was intended to be averted by the terms of the order it [originally] asked me to make".
The adjudicator reviews the ongoing failure of the Ministry to address racism. " In the matter of institutional reform, although the Ministry has at times "talked the talk", it appears never to have "walked the walk." A series of reports calling for action were "shelved".
The adjudicator documents a litany of incidents of mistreatment of the complainant and his concerns. The complainant was met with "widespread scorn and subjected to name calling and subtle attacks". As for managements investigation of his concerns, “the complainant was left with refusals, delays, bias, incompetence, the
twisting of facts, the withholding of information and unjustified inquiries about and, findings against him”. “... The indifference, ineptitude and bad faith of management at all levels is bewildering”.
The adjudicator makes Ministry wide orders, because he finds a “systemic breakdown” at the Ministry and “until that “larger dysfunction” is fixed the Board is “never going to be able to fix Metro East”.
The Ministry wide orders include:
§ 3 days training for all managers;
§ a roster of external investigators to replace the Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Program investigation role of the Internal Investigation Unit;
§ a roster of external mediators to be used under the OPSEU – Ministry Systemic Change Program;
§ external monitoring for 3 years;
§ “Executive Training” of the Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Ministers and Regional Directors;
§ the “performance appraisal” forms of the Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister, Regional Director, Superintendents and Deputy Superintendents be revised immediately to include responsibility for compliance with the decision.
The orders for Toronto East Detention Centre include:
§ anti-racism training;
§ all WDHP investigations and mediation to be done by persons external to the Ministry;
§ a Compliance Committee involving all parties.
The orders specific to the Complainant include:
§ paid leaves of absence until the Compliance Committee can indicate there has been compliance;
§ continuing as an acting OM16 until all orders (including those that are Ministry-wide) have been fully implemented.
According to a Canadian Press article, the Minister has indicated that “his Ministry is willing to co-operate with the Board of Inquiry’s findings”. The Minister is quoted as saying “We do not accept racism in the system and we will work with them to eliminate it”. The Ministry’s degree of real compliance with the decision
will be closely monitored.
Note: The decision has now been appealed by the Ministry