Statement on proposed harassment and sexual violence legislation

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is pleased to see the government propose stronger legislation to address harassment and sexual violence at work and now offer protection to Parliament Hill staff, including more than 600 PSAC members.

The proposed legislation, Bill C-65, would amend both the Canada Labour Code and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.

“I am very happy that Bill C-65 extends health and safety provisions to those working on Parliament Hill who were previously denied those basic health and safety rights,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National Executive Vice President. “We have fought for equal protection for Parliament Hill workers for more than 25 years.”

PSAC also welcomes the government’s request to form a working group to discuss and develop a toolkit of regulations and guidance that will outline how to address violence and harassment in the workplace.

However, it is disappointing the legislation does not go far enough to address the need for a remedy to those who have experienced sexual violence or harassment.

“In the context of allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood and around the world, I am surprised that the federal government would table a bill on sexual harassment and violence which fails to provide a remedy for victims,” said Aylward.

“Victims of violence and harassment are too often denied justice. The government must give teeth to this legislation by outlining clear repercussions for the perpetrator and including a personal and systemic remedy for victims.”

The announcement by Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu was framed around three key pillars: preventing violence, responding to allegations and supporting individuals whom have been victims. 

However, the legislation still leaves several questions unanswered:

  • It is unclear how the legislation will improve the harassment complaint process to provide impartial investigations which will cause the least harm.
  • Real remedies are needed to improve existing distinct complaint and disciplinary procedures for particular federal public service workers (e.g. RCMP).
  • The legislation needs to clarify the role of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and provide remedies to resolve issues that are under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and collective agreements but that may not be covered by the Canada Labour Code.
  • To what extent will the impartial third party be able to provide systemic remedies to address founded complaints of systemic sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.
  • Whether there will be adequate staff and financial resources allocated to implement this legislation

PSAC is looking forward to working with the federal government to continue to improve harassment and sexual violence legislation for federal public service workers.

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November 8, 2017
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