Backgrounder: Action against harassment and sexual violence at work


The legislative amendments proposed in Bill C-65 will replace the current patchwork of laws and policies that address violence and harassment in workplaces across the federal jurisdiction – including the federal public service, Parliament and Ministers’ offices.  It will enhance prevention, protection and support when harassment and violence occurs.

The proposed approach will contribute to eliminating harassment and violence from federal workplaces by:

·         covering the full range of unacceptable behaviours ranging from teasing and bullying, to sexual harassment and physical and sexual violence;

·         requiring employers to take concrete action to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the workplace and effectively respond to incidents when they do occur;

·         requiring that measures be put in place to protect the privacy of employees who report occurrences of harassment and violence in order to encourage potential victims to come forward;

·         providing employees with the choice of informal resolution processes or neutral, third-party investigations; and

·         protecting employees from retaliation and providing support to them when incidents occur.

This approach would apply to both private- and public-sector federally regulated workplaces.  Through this Bill, these protections, as well as occupational health and safety requirements, would also extend to Parliamentary workplaces such as the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament.

The Government of Canada recognizes that legislation isn’t enough to end harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the workplace. A culture change is required in Canadian workplaces to prevent harassment and violence, and to respond to and support employees when it happens.

To support this change, the Government will put in place:

·         awareness building on harassment and violence;

·         education and training tools for employees and employers;

·         a toll-free help line to help employees navigate the process and support employers in putting in place policies and processes.

Workplace committees play a key role in ensuring a safe workplace, one that is free from harassment and violence. Under the new approach, exemptions will only be allowed when employers have an alternative that meets the same needs.

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