OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2017 /CNW/ - Harassment and sexual violence of any kind are unacceptable – period. The Government of Canada made a commitment to Canadians to help ensure that federally regulated workplaces, including Parliament Hill, are free from harassment and sexual violence. Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced the Government's proposed framework to address these issues.
Power imbalances and gender norms underpin our culture, which has led to tolerance of these behaviours for far too long. Research shows that harassment and violence in Canadian workplaces are persistent and pervasive, and that incidents often go unreported because people fear retaliation. Yet these behaviours have long-term negative effects, not just for people who've experienced them, but for employers as well, through lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.
The framework introduced today marks an important milestone towards making workplaces in federally regulated industries, and Parliament Hill, free from harassment and sexual violence. The framework has three pillars:
1. Prevent incidents of harassment and violence from occurring;
2. Respond effectively to these incidents when they do occur; and
3. Support victims, survivors and employers in the process.
Bill C-65 would amend existing provisions in the Canada Labour Code, replacing the patchwork of laws and policies that address these issues within the federal jurisdiction, including federally regulated workplaces and the federal public service, putting into place one comprehensive approach that takes the full spectrum of harassment and violence into consideration, and expanding these policies to cover parliamentary workplaces, such as the Senate, the Library of Parliament and the House of Commons, including political staff on Parliament Hill.
The changes being proposed to the Code will create a more robust approach to addressing harassment and sexual violence in the workplace. These include repealing weak provisions and ensuring that employers are required to take steps to prevent and protect employees against these behaviours, to respond to them when they do occur, and to offer support to employees affected by them.
The government will also launch an awareness campaign to challenge misconceptions and stereotypes, and develop sample policies for employers. To support people who do experience harassment or violence at work, the government will provide outreach to employees and employers, to help them navigate the workplace prevention and resolution process and to help direct victims to support services.
Today the Government of Canada is taking an important step. But no government can fix this alone. It will take all of us – employers, employees, colleagues, family members and friends – to do better, and to put an end to harassment and sexual violence.
"Not only have I been mandated by Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that federally regulated workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence, but this is also important to me, personally. Today, I'm proud to take another step in achieving this goal, and call on all Canadians to join me as we create a more respectful culture."
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
"No Canadian should have to experience harassment and sexual violence. Today's announcement is a strong indicator that the Government of Canada is committed to taking immediate action to prevent and address gender-based violence in all its forms. Our collective and individual actions matter and that includes a whole-of-government approach to make Canada a safer and more inclusive place to live."
- The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women
"The Government of Canada is committed to eliminating harassment and violence in the workplace. The measures we are taking today will strengthen the laws and policies that keep public service employees safe, and deliver on our promise to take action to ensure that the workplace is free from harassment and sexual violence."
– The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada
"We made a commitment to take action to ensure that Parliament is a workplace free from harassment and sexual violence. This legislation is a welcome and necessary step towards fulfilling that commitment."
– The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism
- The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is mandated by the Prime Minister to work with the Minister of Status of Women and other ministerial colleagues to ensure that federal workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is mandated by the Prime Minister to take action to ensure that Parliament is a workplace free from harassment and sexual violence.
- Of those who responded to the online survey, a full 60% reported having experiences harassment; 30% said they had experienced sexual harassment; 21% reported experiencing violence; and 3% said they had experienced sexual violence. According to respondents, incidents are underreported, often due to fear of retaliation, and the incidents that are reported are not dealt with effectively. 41% of survey respondents stated that no attempt was made to resolve an incident they reported.
- Also from the online survey, respondents reported that women are more likely than men to experience sexual harassment, and people with disabilities and members of a visible minority group are more likely to experience harassment than other groups.
- Research carried out by Abacus Data has shown that over 1 in 10 Canadians say sexual harassment in their workplace is "quite common," and another 44% say that while it's infrequent, it does happen.
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The legislative amendments proposed in Bill C-65 will replace the current patchwork of laws and policies that address violence and harassment in workplaces across the federal jurisdiction – including the federal public service, Parliament and Ministers' offices. It will enhance prevention, protection and support when harassment and violence occurs.
The proposed approach will contribute to eliminating harassment and violence from federal workplaces by:
- covering the full range of unacceptable behaviours ranging from teasing and bullying, to sexual harassment and physical and sexual violence;
- requiring employers to take concrete action to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the workplace and effectively respond to incidents when they do occur;
- requiring that measures be put in place to protect the privacy of employees who report occurrences of harassment and violence in order to encourage potential victims to come forward;
- providing employees with the choice of informal resolution processes or neutral, third-party investigations; and
- protecting employees from retaliation and providing support to them when incidents occur.
This approach would apply to both private- and public-sector federally regulated workplaces. Through this Bill, these protections, as well as occupational health and safety requirements, would also extend to Parliamentary workplaces such as the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament.
The Government of Canada recognizes that legislation isn't enough to end harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the workplace. A culture change is required in Canadian workplaces to prevent harassment and violence, and to respond to and support employees when it happens.
To support this change, the Government will put in place:
- awareness building on harassment and violence;
- education and training tools for employees and employers;
- a toll-free help line to help employees navigate the process and support employers in putting in place policies and processes.
Workplace committees play a key role in ensuring a safe workplace, one that is free from harassment and violence. Under the new approach, exemptions will only be allowed when employers have an alternative that meets the same needs.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: For media enquiries, please contact: Matt Pascuzzo, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, [email protected], 819-654-4183; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]