Government of Canada supports initiative to address workplace sexual harassment and improve access to justice in Ontario
July 23, 2019 - Cobourg, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada
In Canada, all individuals have the right to a safe workplace with fair treatment for all. Sexual harassment impacts the health and well-being of those involved, as well as their ability to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Creating and maintaining safe workplaces where everyone – no matter their gender or gender identity – can be safe, respected and able to focus on their work and career is a priority for the Government of Canada.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced funding for The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland. This federal investment of $3,747,000 supports 20 legal clinics in Eastern, Northern and Southwestern Ontario. Together they will take a coordinated approach to the development and delivery of legal information and advice to individuals as well as public legal education on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The work of these clinics will improve access to justice for individuals who experience sexual harassment in their workplace by educating vulnerable people on their legal rights in regards to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Today’s announcement is part of the Budget 2018’s $50 million over five years of funding to address 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 assist victims and take a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Everyone should have the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment. It is essential that we increase support for victims of workplace sexual harassment and access to justice across Ontario and across Canada. I am proud that our government’s support will empower these 20 legal clinics, to make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals who experience sexual harassment in their workplace.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“The 20 Ontario Community Legal Clinics involved in this project are very pleased to be selected to deliver this important program, which seeks to ensure a safe workspace for all workers. Community Legal Clinics are uniquely situated to be able to carry out this vital work. First, they have expertise in developing and delivering public legal education and information, and in giving legal advice. And second, Community Legal Clinics are locally based, and as such, they can tailor their materials and delivery towards workers, workplaces and the types of employment that are found in their own community.”
Lois Cromarty, Executive Director
The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland
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.
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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