Sixty per cent of Canadians have experienced workplace harassment, according to a new report released by the federal government

The report, released on Thursday, summarizes the government’s findings of its consultations around harassment and sexual violence in the workplace. The consultation took two forms: an online survey and a series of roundtable meetings with stakeholders, including employers, labour organizations, federal government departments and agencies, academics and advocacy groups.

“The results of the consultations confirm the need to take action,” noted a release from the government. “Canadians indicated that incidents of harassment and sexual violence in the workplace are not only underreported, but also that they are often dealt with ineffectively when they are reported.”

Read: New workplace order necessary to prevent harassment

According to the survey portion of the consultation, 60 per cent of respondents have experienced harassment in the workplace, while 30 per cent have dealt with sexual harassment. In addition, 21 per cent of respondents have experienced violence and three per cent have dealt with sexual violence.

During the consultations, stakeholders raised the importance of looking at harassment from the perspective of gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination. Among survey respondents, 94 per cent of those who reported experiencing sexual harassment were women, while people with disabilities and members of a visible minority were more likely to experience harassment than other groups.

Stakeholders stressed the importance of prevention measures and highlighted the need to raise awareness among employers and employees about issues of harassment and violence. More than half (54 per cent) of survey respondents said they’d like to see education for all supervisors, while 51 per cent would like to see education for all employees and 39 per cent said an awareness campaign would be useful.

The consultations also suggested that training and education would help employers understand and respond to what’s happening in their workplaces. Most survey respondents reported that although their workplaces have sexual harassment and violence prevention policies in place, they didn’t receive training on them.

Read: How to confront incivility in the workplace

In fact, 76 per cent of survey respondents indicated their workplace has a sexual harassment policy, but only 43 per cent of that group have participated in training on the policy. Where they had received training, the most common type was web-based activities, followed by classroom instruction.

Stakeholders also identified underreporting and insufficient data on workplace harassment and violence as major issues that any new framework should address. And stakeholders agreed that to reduce workplace harassment and violence and speed up resolution, data should be collected to track results.

“Over the course of my career, I have worked with many people who have survived the physical, psychological and practical consequences stemming from harassment and sexual violence,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, in a news release.

“I have seen the effects it has on their lives and on communities. I am grateful to those who have shared their experiences and perspectives with us; that input is invaluable as we work toward our next steps, which will be announced soon.”‎

Read: Sounding Board: What employers need to know about Bill 132

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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