The Ontario government has appointed an all-male panel to probe workplace culture at the provincial police force, raising questions about whether the review will adequately address gender discrimination and harassment issues facing female employees.
Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones on Monday announced that Ontario will spend up to $500,000 for an independent review panel to examine culture at the Ontario Provincial Police following recent suicides, as well as complaints by current and former OPP staff.
The three-member panel will consist of former Superior Court associate chief justice Douglas Cunningham, former deputy attorney-general Murray Segal and former NDP cabinet minister David Cooke.
In an interview, Ms. Jones said the government chose its three panelists based on experience in government and the judiciary.
“We wanted that expertise and unfortunately in this particular panel … we couldn’t put in a female at this time,” she said.
“The Premier has appointed the solicitor-general and the attorney-general as females, so I don’t think it’s a case of being excluded. We first and foremost wanted individuals who had experience and background in this type of work, which is why we’ve asked these three individuals to serve.”
Ms. Jones said the panel’s agenda will be driven by the feedback it hears from OPP members, civilian workers, retired officers and the general public, and that much of the work will be completed online.
“We have to be fiscally responsible. And frankly, a lot of these stories, I’m not sure that people would want to share in a very public forum,” she said.
Ms. Jones has said the OPP is facing a mental-health crisis, with 13 officers having taken their own lives since 2012. She called the statistics “deeply concerning.”
Ms. Jones said the panel’s review will be “comprehensive,” with an interim report by midsummer and a final report expected by fall. They will be paid a standard per diem of $1,200 for days they work.