WINNIPEG, MB: An independent assessment has confirmed that the members of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) are facing serious morale challenges.
The WPS Mental Health and Wellness Survey – a joint effort supported by the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA), the Winnipeg Police Senior Officers Association (WPSOA) and the Executive of the WPS – was commissioned this past spring. Independent experts reviewed the responses and have prepared a summary report which highlights a number of serious challenges impacting the workplace of WPS members.
The survey process was designed by Dr. Lisa Kitt and Dr. Nathalie Gagnon, two highly qualified academic researchers. The response rate was very strong at 75%, and the key findings of the report have been presented to the WPS Executive, the leadership of the WPSOA and the WPA. A briefing has also been provided to the members of the Winnipeg Police Board.
“At the time we announced this survey, we felt the WPS was facing a severe morale crisis, and with the benefit of this independent report, we can see these concerns have been validated,” said WPA President Maurice Sabourin. “There is a serious leadership vacuum at the top of the WPS. There are growing morale challenges facing our members and serious workplace issues throughout the service. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic is a mitigating factor, but it is clear the roots of these problems go back five years or more.”
The summary report notes that WPS members are feeling micromanaged, unsupported by leadership and not cared about. Low staffing levels, particularly in the General Patrol, are a serious concern, as are promotion and transfer processes. These factors, together with the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic and the broader political climate, are all contributing to an organizational culture within the WPS that the report describes as “toxic.”
“These are serious problems and it is clear that without prompt and decisive action, they will only get worse,” said Sabourin. “These issues can only be tackled if we work together. For our part, the WPA is committed to working constructively with the WPS Executive in order to see changes made. We are hopeful, in turn, the WPS Executive will accept the findings of the report, and work with us to overcome these challenges.”