Damning report alleges ‘toxic culture’ at major healthcare employer

Employees have expressed doubts their employer can achieve an overhaul of its ‘toxic’ workplace culture, which they say is coming from the ‘top down’

Employees of the First Nations Health Authority will be watching closely this week to see if the agency’s workplace culture changes after a damning report.
Canada’s auditor general recently confirmed in an audit the FNHA had a host of problems with executive hiring, compensation and internal conflicts of interest. These included a lack of transparency over executive entitlements, as well as recruitment practices that were in breach of its own governance standards.
The probe was launched after an anonymous letter accused the FNHA of misogyny, openly condoned sexual harassment, racism and nepotism.
Though the FNHA has responded with a whistleblower policy, an enterprise risk management policy, as well as a commitment to improving its policies and governance, some employees are skeptical the culture can change.
APTN News reports two employees say moves by the FNHA to disregard some of the damning allegations meant it was ignoring the toxic work environment.
“What causes me great anxiety is…how the FNHA was disregarding a lot of the allegations because, for myself, I faced some of them, not all of them, but some,” a current female employee told APTN News on condition of anonymity.
“I see, not only in the department I was working in but in others, a lot of mistreatment, a lot of lateral violence, a lot of vertical violence, top down.” The employee said she is currently in counseling as a result of her employment.
Another female employee said that the leadership of the FNHA was only interested in self-preservation, not improving the workplace culture.
“There is a whole lot of people at that level that are only interested in protecting themselves and their title and their power and not talking about the real issues that we need to fix,” the employee said, adding the FNHA was risking failure.
The original letter accused the FNHA, among other things, of hiring women based on looks and not punishing instances of sexual harassment.
The results of the audit found that hiring practices were questionable in many cases, and investigations of harassment allegations were far from thorough.
APTN News reports that chair of the First Nations Health Council, Grand Chief Doug Kelly, argued the anonymous letter was “essentially a smear campaign”.
FNHA board chairwoman Lydia Hwitsum said the agency had accepted the auditor general’s recommendations to improve transparency and accountability.

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