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The Department of Public Works released an internal report that claims there is cronyism in the hiring process. A number of unnamed employees have complained to an ombudsman over what they believe to be preferential hiring and sweetheart appointments for members of management’s family, bordering nepotism according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
Andre Latreille, the department’s mental health ombudsman wrote, “Many employees are afraid to speak openly about their situation in the workplace.” he added, “The confidential meetings helped them to explore potential situations.”
The number of managers that have been demoted for misconduct remains unknown but Latreille wrote in his 2019 Annual Report To The Deputy Minister, “Based on feedback from the ombudsman and on other information, senior management decided to terminate the acting assignments of employees in positions of authority because of conduct considered inappropriate by subordinates.”
Amongst the complaints listed are “favouritism, unfairness and lack of transparency in staffing” in department offices nationwide, he said: “Various employees across Canada expressed their frustration regarding staffing decisions that lacked transparency. Employees perceive favouritism in staffing, while others have even reported nepotism.”
“The favouritism and nepotism reported by some employees violate the principles of fairness and transparency in staffing and undermine trust in the organization,” said the report. Ombudsman Latreille also cited complaints of “psychological harassment” by supervisors including “denigration, shouting, badmouthing, gossip and offensive remarks.”
There weren’t any detailed examples included nor any names of managers who had provenly hired friends or relatives.
The Public Service Commission conducted a 2018 Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey and found that 54 percent of federal employees said that the hiring in their office “depends on who you know.” The survey questioned 101,892 employees.
A total of 31 percent of people said that the people hired in their work units were incompetent while 16 percent strongly agreed that “people hired in my work unit can do the job.” There was only a small, 14 percent who strongly agreed that promotions were fair.
Greg Phillips, national president of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees said, “It if often unclear why a person has been screened out of a process.” In a 2018 testimony at the Commons government operations committee, he said, “It has resulted in a deep distrust of the process. Employees remain fearful to speak out or file a complaint.”
Christ Aylward, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada testified as well saying, “It comes down to who you know, and it’s not necessarily the best-qualified person getting those jobs. Our members see that. They see it in virtually every staffing position.”
“Managers don’t have to hire the most qualified candidate, only the candidate they think is best,” said Aylward: “This has created the potential for abuse, and certainly the perception of abuse.”