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Workplace investigation initiated in Calgary police wellness training review

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) spent roughly $30,000 on mental health and wellness training and education from an unaccredited US institute with which ties have since been severed.

The Calgary Police Commission (CPC) met with the CPS behind closed doors on Sept. 16 and were provided with an initial report on an internal review that began Aug. 31.

Questions mounted after a Global News story revealed that the Calgary police were receiving training from a US company purporting to be a college. That investigation showed that the company wasn’t accredited, and one that education experts said carried all the hallmarks of a diploma mill.

According to information provided by CPC, a proposal was put forward in 2021 to have four employees complete degrees with the College of Certified Psychophysiologists. The CPC said financial support was provided in contravention of CPS rules.

Before suspending the relationship, two employees enrolled in degree programs and another was set to receive an honourary degree, the CPC said.

Three people also completed a Police Mental Health Certificate. Sixteen people completed a two-day course on Critical Incident Stress Debrief.

“We continue to have serious questions about how the Service ended up paying for employees to take degrees from an unaccredited college, especially when there is a policy that forbids it,” said Commission Chair Shawn Cornett.

“We will ensure that this question, and questions around the vetting of the other training provided by this college, are thoroughly investigated and addressed.”

The Commission also said that they would be conducting a workplace investigation to see if there was any misconduct by Service members.

Tuition request for CPS

According to the CPC, the CPS policy to provide tuition help requires that the learning happen at an accredited post-secondary school.

The employee must create a learning plan that explains the rationale for taking the education, what courses are included, and how the education aligns with the Service’s business needs,” read the CPC report.

CPS members are allowed to enrol in classes that aren’t a part of post-secondary programs if there are no internal courses. The training has to meet a business need, can be shared and is cost effective.

Part of the training was approved through this process.

Further, the Service’s standard for clinical mental healthcare is to have practitioners with a master’s degree and registration with a recognized Canadian professional body.

The CPC said the initial review showed no evidence of the college’s course material being used in CPS wellness practices. The college also hasn’t provided any direct treatment or support for employees.

This incident has unfortunately cast doubt in some employees’ minds about the quality of mental health supports available to them,” said Cornett.

“We need to get to the bottom of what happened and restore trust in the system as quickly as possible so that employees will continue seeking out those supports when they need help.”

Previously, the Calgary police said they have one of the most robust mental health and wellness components for law enforcement in Canada.

“We have 100 per cent confidence in the training and skills of those in our Psychological Therapies Section, as well as other external contractors that directly provide psychological services to our members,” they said at the time.  

Any further actions will be reserved until after a workplace review is complete, the CPC said.