Canada ratifies treaty to end workplace violence and harassment

First-ever global treaty developed by International Labour Organization

Canada ratifies treaty to end workplace violence and harassment
Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. And ILO director-general Gilbert Houngbo in Geneva, Switzerland

The federal government has ratified the first-ever global treaty on ending violence and harassment in the workplace.

Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190, which provides a clear framework to prohibit, prevent, and address workplace violence and harassment.

“No one should face violence or harassment on the job—not in Canada, or anywhere else. We’re joining countries around the world to protect workers, and make sure they have the safe, respectful workplaces they deserve,” says O’Regan Jr.

He was joined by the ILO Director-General, Gilbert Houngbo, as he signed Canada onto the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Houngbo says by ratifying the treaty, “Canada reaffirms its longstanding commitment to the creation of a world of work free from violence and harassment, based on dignity and respect for all and leaving no one behind.”

The federal government press release says Canada played a leadership role in the development and promotion of the treaty by chairing the International Labour Conference standard-setting committee.

The treaty also recognizes the role unions play in the prevention of workplace violence and harassment. 

“C190 is a comprehensive and inclusive agreement that, once implemented, will help make all workers safer. Canada’s unions are ready to get to work with governments and employers on a plan to swiftly implement these new protections. Together, we can build a world of work free of violence and harassment, in all its forms,” says Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2019 25% of Canadian women and 17% of Canadian men experienced workplace sexual harassment. It also says 5.6% of employees indicated they experienced some form of workplace harassment within the past two years.