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Bank of Canada won’t say whether it used NDAs in harassment, workplace violence cases

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The Bank of Canada is not saying whether any cases of harassment or workplace violence from the past two years involved the use of non-disclosure agreements, citing the institution’s privacy obligations in the incidents.

Global News asked the central bank whether any of the six complaints that it investigated over the past two years — three of which the bank determined breached its policy on harassment and workplace violence — had resolutions that saw anyone involved sign NDAs.

Read more: Bank of Canada says 6 harassment complaints made over 2 years, half broke rules

In response to requests from Global News, a Bank of Canada spokesperson declined to answer the question directly.

“The Bank’s responsibility to uphold its obligations under the Privacy Act preclude us from speaking about any specific case or individual. All reports and complaints received under our policy, including the names of the individuals involved, the circumstances, the complaint process and repercussions, are treated as strictly confidential,” the statement read.

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Global News had previously asked for details about whether any of the six complaints involved senior leadership at the bank, financial payouts or termination. The bank would not provide a direct response to those questions either, citing Privacy Act obligations.

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The Bank of Canada, which sets monetary policy for the country such as the benchmark interest rate for many types of loans, is a public institution and Crown corporation owned by the federal government. The bank sets its policy independently of the feds, but receives its funding from the government and Ottawa appoints the institution’s governors.

When asked by Global News about the lack of details around these incidents, Peter Julian, the NDP deputy finance critic and MP for New Westminster—Burnaby, said the federal government has a “responsibility” to create a safe work environment with the “transparency and accountability that Canadians expect.”

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“We’re seeing this not only with the Bank of Canada, but in a number of other important federal institutions. This is a crisis that has to be addressed,” he said.

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Global News reviewed a copy of the Bank of Canada’s Prevention of Harassment and Workplace Violence Policy provided by the bank.

The 18-page document lays out the process by which the bank investigates complaints under the policy, which cites confidentiality as key for the comfort of individuals coming forward to report harassment or workplace violence.

Among the “disciplinary measures” the bank may undertake amid a breach in the policy are mandatory counselling or training, an apology, reassigning roles or termination of a contract.

The bank includes in its principles a “zero-tolerance approach to harassment and workplace violence.”

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But Julian said the standard for a zero-tolerance approach is “not being respected” at institutions that are run or funded by the federal government.

“We’ve seen this with national sports organizations like Hockey Canada. We see this with the military. We see this now with the Bank of Canada. And so this is a major endemic problem that the federal government has failed to take seriously,” he said.

Hockey Canada most recently came under fire for the use of NDAs in the settlements of sexual assault and abuse allegations made against members of its organization, including members of the 2018 world juniors championship team.

Read more: Hockey Canada’s non-disclosure agreement in crosshairs of parliamentary committee

“The federal government has that responsibility to ensure that those organizations are actually putting in place zero-tolerance policies. I have not seen that leadership from the federal government. And I think Canadians haven’t seen that leadership from the federal government. And that leadership needs to start now,” Julian said.

Global News has reached out multiple times since Thursday to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s office and the Conservative Party’s finance critic Jasraj Singh Hallan, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office, for comment on the Bank of Canada’s lack of disclosure.

No responses have yet been received.

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