‘Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and the harms are all too real for those who experience it’
Prince Edward Island and Yukon are launching separate campaigns to fight sexual harassment in the workplace.
David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, announced $1.7 million over five years in funding for P.E.I.’s Human Rights Commission and the Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) of P.E.I. to improve the access to justice of individuals who experience sexual harassment at work.
The human rights commission will implement a public awareness campaign for employers and employees and train employers to support the prevention and identification of sexual harassment in the workplace. The campaign will encourage employers to lead the creation and maintenance of safe and inclusive workplaces, and provide resources and education opportunities in secondary schools to support the youth who are entering the workforce.
The CLIA of P.E.I., meanwhile, will provide a free legal advice program for victims of workplace sexual harassment that provides referrals to trauma-informed lawyers for legal advice.
The two organizations will also work together to develop a public legal education campaign for employers and employees, including the creation of public legal information resources and training for lawyers on trauma and the brain.
Lametti also announced a $2.6 million five-year funding for the Yukon Human Rights Commission (YHRC), which will also raise awareness and improve the knowledge, skills and capacity of residents to address workplace harassment.
YHRC will also develop and deliver culturally appropriate public legal education campaigns for the territory, including information toolkits, online modules, and training and outreach materials with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace. It will also hold bi-annual multi-day conferences, regular workshops and outreach sessions in communities across the province, including rural and First Nations communities, to address sexual harassment in the workplace.
In September, the federal government also announced $1.6 million in funding over five years in Saskatchewan to fight sexual harassment. Funding has already been provided to British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario and Quebec. This is a part of a five-year, $50-million commitment announced in Budget 2018.
Division XV.1 of Part III of the Canada Labour Code establishes an employee's right to employment free of sexual harassment and requires employers to take positive action to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It defines sexual harassment as any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee; or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.
According to a survey conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada in 2017, 94 per cent of respondents who reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace were women.
"Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and the harms are all too real for those who experience it,” said Lametti. “We all have a role to ensure that our workplaces are safe and healthy for everyone."