Government of Canada supports initiatives to address workplace sexual harassment in British Columbia

News release

May 21, 2019 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Department of Justice Canada

In Canada, all individuals have the right to a safe workplace with fair treatment for all.  When sexual harassment occurs, it impacts the health and well-being of those involved, as well as their ability to perform their jobs to the best of their ability.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced nearly $5.3 million in funding for four British Columbian organizations that are working to address sexual harassment in Canadian workplaces. The work of these organizations -- the Migrant Workers Centre BC Society, the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), and the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia -- will improve access to justice for individuals who experience sexual harassment in their workplace. They will also put in place outreach programs to better inform workers, particularly those most vulnerable, about their rights and how to access help.

Today’s announcement is part of the overall $50 million over five years announced in Budget 2018 committed to addressing sexual harassment. Of this amount, $25 million is dedicated to organizations so that they can increase their ability to provide legal advice and information to support complainants of sexual harassment in the workplace. Another $25 million is dedicated to organizations to enable them to provide public legal education and information to workers. Through both inititatives, the Government of Canada is helping organizations  take a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Quotes

“Workplace sexual harassment is simply unacceptable. It is crucial to fill the gaps in legal information and resources to support individuals who bravely come forward with complaints. I am pleased to support these organizations and their initiatives that will address this very serious issue and help provide a safe workplace.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“We know that migrant workers and other newcomers to Canada are often working in low-paying precarious jobs, and that women in these jobs are more prone to workplace sexual harassment. Since #MeToo began, we have seen an increase in the number of migrant workers stepping forward to seek our services. Thanks to the generous support of the Ministry of Justice, Migrant Workers Centre will collaborate with ISS of BC to provide legal advice so that workers can understand their rights and consider their options. Services will be offered at different locations around the lower mainland to increase accessibility, and frontline workers will receive training to inform and refer. Ensuring that workers feel supported will play an important part in upholding safe and equitable conditions at work for everyone."

Natalie Drolet, Executive Director
Migrant Workers Centre BC Society

“The Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS), and its Healthy Women, Healthy Communities program is honored to have been selected as part of this funding initiative. Social isolation, language barriers, a history of trauma and violence due to war and displacement, and lack of familiarity with Canadian laws and protections for both immigrants and workers are all factors that create vulnerabilities for newcomer women in the workplace. Empowered women are healthy women, and healthy women are an important foundation for healthy communities."

David Lau, Executive Director
Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society

“We are very pleased that the Government of Canada is responding to the nation-wide discussion on sexual harassment and violence against women by investing in projects that will support action and accountability. For many years, CLAS has been providing legal assistance to people impacted by sexual harassment in the workplace, but we know that there are still many people targeted by this unacceptable behaviour who do not know their rights, or even where to turn, when they have been harmed. We are delighted to be able to expand our legal services to provide increased support for victims of workplace sexual harassment across the province and help ensure that everyone harmed by this behaviour, regardless of income, location, language spoken, or any other factor, knows their rights, understands their options, and has access to quality legal advice and support.”

Aleem Bharmal, Executive Director,
Community Legal Assistance Society

“Since the moment the #MeToo movement began to take hold, there has been a dramatic increase in awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and the extent of harm being perpetrated in Canadian workplaces. In response, and with the generous support of the Government of Canada, the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) will be providing trauma-informed training and distributing relevant, public legal information to help non profits, small businesses and Indigenous communities prevent and respond. Like other forms of gender-based violence, workplace harassment is rarely reported. We believe shining a very bright light on the issue by helping people to know their rights and know what to say and what to do will help build healthier, more respectful workplaces.”

Tracy Porteous, Executive Director,
Ending Violence Association of BC

Quick facts

  • The Canada Labour Code 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. This federal definition applies to federally-regulated workplaces.

  • In 2018, Statistics Canada released a study on all forms of harassment in Canadian workplaces. Statistics Canada found 19% of women and 13% of men reported that they had experienced harassment in their workplace. Women were more likely to report sexual harassment in their workplace (4%) than men (less than 1%).

  • In 2016, 48% of workers in Canada were women (Statistics Canada, 2017), and in a survey conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada in 2017, 94% of respondents who reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace were women.

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568
Rachel.rappaport@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca 


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