An RCMP employee says he's disappointed the police force continues to withhold a report it commissioned on the hazards associated with a secretive former training facility in Kemptville, Ont., almost five months after Radio-Canada filed an access to information request to obtain a copy.
"I am disappointed the RCMP is not more supportive of us. They're hiding it for no reason," said the employee, who spent many weeks in the former Canada Training Centre in Kemptville and suffers from Parkinson's disease. Radio-Canada/CBC has agreed not to use his name because of the sensitive nature of his work.
The report produced by Ottawa-based company BluMetric Environmental is part of a review the RCMP launched more than two years ago in reaction to a Radio-Canada/CBC investigation published in December 2019.
The investigation revealed the presence of numerous contaminants at the facility used by the RCMP from 1988 until 2006, when it was closed and later demolished.
The story identified at least six RCMP members who had trained at the facility and who died prematurely of cancer or neurological conditions. Radio-Canada had also reached out to other members who are still suffering from ailments since they trained in Kemptville.
Delays piling up
On Dec. 1, 2021, RCMP announced a report on the former Kemptville building had been produced but refused to make it public, saying the review of the former facility was not yet complete.
Radio-Canada filed an access to information request on Dec. 7, 2021, to obtain a copy of the report. The RCMP ATIP Division responded saying the 30-day deadline set out by the Access to Information Act would not suffice and a 30-day extension was needed.
"The extension is necessary either because of the large number of requested records or because the extent of the research to be carried out would seriously interfere with the operations of the institution," wrote the RCMP's ATIP Division in French on Dec. 20, 2021.
Radio-Canada is seeking only one document, the BluMetric Environmental report.
The extension ran out in February 2022.
"Your documents have been found and are now pending review before release. We cannot say when it will be sent because of other files already in the queue," the ATIP Division wrote at the time.
On April 22, Radio-Canada again reached out to the RCMP ATIP Division to find out when the report would finally be released. No reply has been received.
The RCMP employee who suffers from Parkinson's disease can't grasp why the RCMP refuses to publicly release the report.
Like other RCMP members Radio-Canada spoke with, he also can't believe the RCMP still has not completed its review of the site more than two years after Radio-Canada/CBC's investigation.
"The RCMP expects a lot from its employees. It should go both ways," he said. "When we are asked to react, it doesn't take us two years."
He doesn't know whether his illness is related to the time he spent at the Kemptville facility. But in another case, that link has been made.
An RCMP officer had to have part of his right lung removed because of an infection caused by a fungus. His physician established a direct link between his condition and earlier "workplace environmental exposure."
Some RCMP officers question why their employer even commissioned a new study.
Multiple inspection reports produced between 1997 and 2007 — that were not made public at the time — had already confirmed high levels of contaminants at the Kemptville building, such as asbestos, silica, lead and toxic mould.
Some officers are asking the RCMP to establish a list of illnesses that can be caused by the contaminants detected at the Kemptville training facility and identify health specialists who can treat them.