Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press In July, “Le Devoir” reported that several employees of the Ministry of Sport, Leisure and Plein Air (MSLPA) had written to Minister Isabelle Charest to complain about the toxic climate maintained by the office of Assistant Deputy Minister Josée Lepage.
The co-founder of the Grand Défi, Pierre Lavoie, as well as representatives of sports federations are concerned about the instability caused by major changes at the top of the ministry led by Isabelle Charest following allegations of a toxic work climate.< /p>
The departures of the assistant deputy minister of the Ministry of Sport, Recreation and Outdoors (MSLPA), Josée Lepage, her executive assistant Martin Cléroult and two directors are among the many changes announced two weeks ago to sports organizations who do business with the ministry, said two sources who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.
In an interview with Devoir, Mr. Lavoie expressed his surprise at the extent of the reorganization that was presented by the new assistant deputy minister of the MSLPA, Chantal Marchand. “Usually there’s a chair or two that changes. But this is a radical change,” said Mr. Lavoie, who is unaware of the reasons for this reorganization.
In July, Le Devoirhad reported that several MSLPA employees had written to Minister Charest to complain about the toxic climate maintained by Assistant Deputy Minister Lepage's office.
On September 6, Ms. Lepage was appointed to the Ministry of family. Mr. Cléroult was promoted to a management position in another sector of the Ministry of Education, to which the MSLPA is administratively attached.
In addition, a new general director, Pascale Côté, was appointed. Her tasks were until then entrusted on an interim basis to Ms. Lepage. And the three departments that report to Ms. Côté do not have a permanent holder.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Bryan St-Louis, affirmed that the reasons for this reorganization are confidential. “Changes in positions within the organization, or even changes in ministry, can be made based on different factors, whether personal, such as the desire for advancement, the desire to change sector of activity, and family or organizational reasons, such as a new distribution of the workload, a modification of work teams or the mission of a given sector,” he replied.
Worry and instability
According to Pierre Lavoie, this situation creates the same instability as if a teacher were replaced during the school year. “Things were starting to get no worse with the teacher and poof! [a new one arrives] in the middle of the year, we don’t know him, and the exams are coming up,” he said.
Sports organizations like Le Grand Défi sometimes did business with the same people for several years. “I hope that Isabelle [Charest] will be able to stimulate her troops to catch up on the knowledge of a hypercomplicated network,” said Mr. Lavoie. That's why everyone is worried. »
The general director of Sports Québec, Isabelle Ducharme, affirmed that the arrival of a new assistant deputy minister, a general director and the absence of permanent incumbents in the three directorates of the sector creates an unprecedented situation. “It can’t bring anything other than instability. Afterwards, it will stabilize, she said. This is a major change, it has rarely been seen in our environment. »
Concerning the new appointments, Ms. Ducharme, whose organization represents the 67 Quebec sports federations, wants to “give the runner a chance.”
“These are people specialized in human resources, who have experience in the public service,” she emphasized. Do they have experience in sport and leisure, in terms of CVs, that does not show it. We don't see their professional experience. That doesn't mean they don't have any, it's not up to us to judge. »
Last February, an investigation report from the Ministry of Education observed that its own services seemed to have “insufficient knowledge” of the Quebec sports ecosystem. “The ministry seems to have, at present, little influence to make regulatory or budgetary changes to influence the actions taken on the ground,” noted the investigators.
This observation was made as part of an investigation following allegations of psychological harassment and sexual assault targeting a women's basketball coach at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit and Montmorency College.
Ms. Ducharme did not want to comment on the ability of the people who have just been appointed to fill this insufficient knowledge of the sports ecosystem. “We don’t have to judge whether they are equipped or not; it’s up to the ministry to judge who it wants to put in place,” she said.
Lack of expertise
The president of Judo Quebec, Patrick Kearney, said the recent changes were a blow to the expertise of the MSLPA. He hopes that the next appointments will improve knowledge of the world of sport and leisure. “They may be really good managers, I don't question that, but we know that they don't have the expertise specific to this environment,” he stressed.
Mr. Kearney fears these changes, especially given that they come shortly before the preparation of budgets with the Ministry of Finance. “They don’t come from that environment, will they be equipped to meet their counterparts in Finance? » he asks.
The general director of the Network of Regional Leisure and Sport Units, Steeve Ager, explained that the extent of the personnel changes is surprising. “It happens, but, in this way, it’s quite unprecedented, we haven’t seen that much,” he explained.
Mr. Ager says the many departures could compromise understanding of the “ecosystem” of leisure and sport. “It creates a certain instability and concern, especially since we are talking about management and, at the same time, several professionals had already left [the ministry] in the last year and a half,” he said.< /p>
According to him, knowledge of sports circles is important so that the right decisions are made at the political level. “The sport, leisure, physical activity sector is a lot of relationships, to understand the sports ecosystem,” he said. When there are changes like this, we wonder if the people we speak to will understand this whole reality. »