Thirty-five years ago, a movement spearheaded by lifetime PSAC member Bonnie Robichaud resulted in radical new legal protections against workplace harassment and discrimination in Canada.
Robichaud was a working-class mother in 1987, employed as a cleaner at the Department of National Defence. For years, she suffered sexual harassment at work, and went on to lead a movement that won a landmark Supreme Court precedent, changing the lives of countless women who have faced harassment and discrimination at work. For the first time, employers across Canada were declared responsible for maintaining a safe, respectful and harassment-free workplace.
Now she’s written a book about it, and the timing couldn’t be better.
It Should Be Easy to Fix, Robichaud’s memoir of her grueling eleven-year fight for justice, which ended with a historic legal victory for workers in Canada, launches on International Women’s Day.
“The system is designed for women not to win, but I broke through that system. At times it’s still difficult. People say, ‘Put it behind you!’ But it’ll never be behind me. And I’m sure there are a lot of women who will never leave it behind them. I decided that writing a book was really important because if we don’t write our history, then it won’t be written,” Robichaud told the Workers’ History Museum.
Workers need action, not just apologies
Minister of National Defence Anita Anand delivered a historic public apology to military sexual misconduct survivors in Canada late last year, but the government must follow through with a concerted effort to undo decades of sexual harassment, abuse and workplace harassment at National Defence.
Federal employees and allies who want to build a culture of equity in the workplace can take inspiration from Robichaud’s longstanding perseverance.
“I just kept showing up,” said Robichaud. “They finally figured out that I wasn’t going away and wasn’t crumbling.”
PSAC’s Common Issues team goes back to the bargaining table with Treasury Board March 29–31, 2022. They will continue to fight to eliminate harassment and discrimination, including our proposal for mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all employees and managers in the federal public service.
It Should Be Easy to Fix is available from Between The Lines Press and bookstores across Canada on March 8.
Discussions of sexual harassment, abuse and workplace harassment can lead to difficult emotions and reactions. If you are seeking help, there are resources available.