VANCOUVER -- Canada's spy agency says it has launched a workplace assessment of its British Columbia office over "serious allegations" raised by whistleblowers who say they were sexually assaulted and harassed by a senior officer.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the officer who was "implicated" in the allegations -- made public in an investigation by The Canadian Press this week -- was removed from the workplace.

One officer says she was raped nine times in 2019 and 2020 by a senior colleague while in surveillance vehicles, and a second officer says she was later sexually assaulted by the same man despite bosses being warned not to pair him with young women.

A statement from the director of CSIS David Vigneault says accusations of a "toxic workplace" cannot be taken lightly, and a Workplace Climate Assessment will take place in the B.C. office to resolve "potential barriers to a safe, healthy and respectful workplace."

The statement says that when the agency first heard about the allegations, it launched a third-party investigation "without delay."

It says that for too long, a culture existed at the agency that allowed "inappropriate behaviours" to "fester."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2023.