The federal government is introducing new regulations to protect employees from harassment and violence in the workplace.
The regulations, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, outline the necessary elements of a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy and the procedures employers are required to have in place to respond to any incidents. They apply to federally regulated workplaces, falling under Bill C-65, which is aimed at strengthening workplace harassment and violence prevention efforts. The bill, which went into effect last year, also brought political employees under the cover of the Canada Labour Code’s occupational health and safety and harassment and sexual violence protections for the first time.
According to the regulations, employers’ policies should include timelines for complaint resolution that support both the victim and alleged perpetrator, requirements for confidentiality for all parties throughout the process and protections for employees who’ve been victimized by a third party, such as a client.
The policies should also specify qualifications of a person considered competent to investigate incidents and provide recommendations, lay out the employer’s obligations in administering corrective measures following an investigation and outline the support employees should be given if they’ve experienced workplace harassment and violence.
“Today, we’re taking an important step forward to ensure that federally regulated workplaces — including the federally regulated private sector, the federal public service and parliamentary workplaces — are free from harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence,” said Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi in a press release. “Every worker deserves a safe workplace, and by working together, we can make that a reality.”
In its 2018 budget, the federal government allocated $34.9 million over five years to support Bill C-65, with an additional $7.4 million per year afterward. Of that, an annual $3.5 million has been put toward Employment and Social Development Canada’s workplace harassment and violence prevention fund.
Five projects received grants through the fund last March. In July, the government invested $2.7 million in an online tool, created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, AfterMeToo and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, to educate employees who’ve experienced workplace harassment or violence about their legal rights.