December 10, 2020 – Defence Stories

A Message from the Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff

Every member of the Defence Team has the right to work in an environment where they are treated with respect, dignity and fairness.

Defence leadership is committed to building a healthy and safe working environment and continues to have important discussions on the issues of harassment, civility and respect in the workplace. Harassment and violence in the workplace, in any form, will not be tolerated.

To that end, amendments to the Canada Labour Code contained in the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations come into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, and will expand the existing Prevention of Violence framework. Known as Bill C-65, these amendments will strengthen provisions in the Canada Labour Code by putting in place one comprehensive approach that takes all forms of harassment and violence into consideration. This will help departments to better prevent, respond to, and provide support to those affected by harassment and violence in the federal public service. This new regulation will affect all DND public service employees and the Canadian Armed Forces members who supervise them.

The coordination and implementation of this new regulation is assigned to ADM(HR-Civ) as the Functional Authority for the health and wellbeing of public service employees within the Department.

In short, this means that along with all Government of Canada departments and agencies, our obligations with respect to harassment and violence in the workplace will increase.

While you will see more details in the coming weeks, some examples of what we will do under this new legislation include:

In parallel, the VCDS has been tasked with addressing the potential changes to the CAF policies and programs. For now, DAOD 5012-0 Harassment Prevention and Resolutionand the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions (accessible only on the National Defence network)  will continue to apply to the CAF. Early in the new year, a working group will be stood up to conduct a holistic review of the CAF harassment framework in order to modernize and align where possible with the Canada Labour Code. The working group will also be tasked with looking at opportunities to streamline and align existing interrelated mechanisms and programs.

Existing programs, preventative measures, and support will remain in place to keep our Defence Team workplace free from physical and psychological harm. However, when harassment or violence does occur, we must work together to identify it; root it out, and take action to prevent reoccurrence. This new legislation will help strengthen our efforts on all fronts.

More detailed information on how these strengthened provisions will be supported across Defence will be communicated in the coming weeks.

It is the responsibility of leaders at all levels and that of every military and civilian member across the Defence Team to remain vigilant to build a workplace that is free from harassment and violence.

We all deserve nothing less.

Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister

General J.H. Vance
Chief of the Defence Staff 

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