For too many workers, harassment and violence are common on the job, especially for women, who are four times more likely to experience violence and harassment than their male colleagues. For Black, Indigenous and racialized women, and those living with a disability, rates of harassment and violence are even higher.
But new changes to the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations of the Canada Labour Code, implemented by Bill C-65, aim to better protect federal workers. The changes apply to workers in the federal public service and separate agencies, crown corporations, airports, telecommunications, and other federally regulated industries.
Prevention and accountability
The new system and changes to the process will help better prevent—and actively address —harassment and violence in the workplace. For Diane Girouard, National Capital Region Vice-President for the Union of Health and Environment Workers, this is more important than ever.
“Before, there wasn’t enough accountability from the offenders, and it was extremely frustrating,” she said. “But now, C-65 brings a clear definition of what violence and harassment in the workplace means, plus mandatory training for managers and employees.”
The new regulations focus on prevention and health and safety aspects. There are other avenues (such as grievances) where workers can take complaints about discrimination or negative treatment based on race, colour, disability, sexual orientation, and other human rights grounds. PSAC members are asked to speak to their union representative about the best way to deal with individual situations.
Harassment impacts mental health
The far-reaching impact of violence and harassment in the workplace on the mental health and physical safety of workers cannot be underestimated.
“Mental health injuries last a lifetime. They damage individuals to the core. It can take years before you can even start recovering. We need to take this seriously,” said Girouard.
PSAC will be vigilant and ensure the regulatory framework on harassment and violence is well implemented so that our workplaces are safe, our members’ human rights are protected, and everyone is treated with dignity.