Order Fixing January 1, 2021 as the Day on Which Certain Sections of that Act Come into Force: SI/2020-45
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 154, Number 13
SI/2020-45 June 24, 2020
AN ACT TO AMEND THE CANADA LABOUR CODE (HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE), THE PARLIAMENTARY EMPLOYMENT AND STAFF RELATIONS ACT AND THE BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2017, NO. 1
Order Fixing January 1, 2021 as the Day on Which Certain Sections of that Act Come into Force
P.C. 2020-455 June 17, 2020
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Labour, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, chapter 22 of the Statutes of Canada, 2018, fixes January 1, 2021, as the day on which sections 0.1 to 16 and 18 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
To fix, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (the Act), January 1, 2021, as the day on which sections 0.1 to 16 and 18 of that Act come into force.
To amend the Canada Labour Code (the Code) to strengthen the existing framework for the prevention of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in federally regulated work places.
The Code regulates industrial relations (Part I), occupational health and safety (Part II), and labour standards (Part III) in work places that fall within federal jurisdiction.
The Act, which received royal assent in October 2018, introduces a number of amendments to the Code to strengthen the existing framework for harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in federally regulated work places. Harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, continue to be pervasive in federally regulated work places. Many employees who have experienced harassment and violence in the work place do not report it for fear of retribution, lack of support or a belief that what they have experienced does not substantiate a complaint. The current legal framework is fragmented and not designed to adequately address occurrences of sexual harassment and sexual violence. In response to these issues, the Government of Canada has committed to taking action to ensure that federal work places are free from harassment and violence and introduced the Act in the House of Commons on November 7, 2017.
To support the implementation of the amendments to the Code, Part XX of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations will be repealed and replaced with the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, which will come into force on the same day as the amendments to the Code. The Regulations include provisions to prevent harassment and violence through a comprehensive prevention policy, training, a resolution process that provides multiple options for seeking resolution, and improved data collection.
The Order in Council brings into force amendments to the Code aimed at improving the existing harassment and violence framework and streamlining and consolidating harassment and violence provisions for all federally regulated work places that fall under Part II of the Code.
The amendments to the Code brought into force by the Order in Council include the following:
- Definition of harassment and violence: Harassment and violence will now be defined as any action, conduct, or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment. This definition supports the concept of a continuum of inappropriate behaviours which captures all forms of harassment and violence, ranging from teasing and unwanted advances to assault.
- Obligation to investigate, record and report: Employers will be required to investigate, record and report occurrences of harassment and violence in accordance with the Regulations.
- Obligation to address harassment and violence: Employers will be required to take prescribed measures to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the work place, respond to occurrences of harassment and violence and offer support to affected employees.
- Extension of employers’ obligations with respect to former employees: Employers’ obligations related to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the work place will be extended to former employees if the occurrence becomes known to the employer within three months after the day on which the former employee ceases to be employed by the employer.
- Harassment and violence prevention training: Employers will have to undergo training in the prevention of harassment and violence and ensure that all employees receive training in the prevention of harassment and violence and are informed of their rights and obligations. Similarly, employers will have to ensure that persons designated to receive complaints relating to occurrences of harassment and violence have relevant knowledge, training and experience.
- Restriction on policy committees, work place committees and health and safety representatives from participating in investigations: Policy committees, work place committees and health and safety representatives will not be allowed to participate in investigations related to an occurrence of harassment and violence in the work place, except in situations of refusal to work for danger. Neither the Minister nor an employer shall, without the person’s consent, provide the policy committee, work place committee or health and safety representative with any information that is likely to reveal the identity of a person involved in an occurrence of harassment and violence.
- Repeal of Division XV.1 of Part III of the Code: Division XV.1 of Part III, which addresses sexual harassment, will be repealed in order for all types of harassment and violence to fall under the regime established in Part II of the Code.
- Annual report: the Minister will be required to prepare and publish an annual report relating to harassment and violence in the work places to which Part II of the Code applies.
Employers will face some increased financial and administrative costs and burdens as a result of these legislative amendments. However, research and expert analysis suggest that the implementation of these amendments to the Code will result in a reduction in occurrences of harassment and violence, which in turn is expected to economically benefit the work place through decreases in absenteeism, job burnout, disability payments, lost work time, and litigation costs.
Successful implementation of the new harassment and violence prevention regime will consist of a number of elements, including awareness campaigns; enforcement; development of materials, tools, and list of investigators; and a harassment and violence prevention hub. In terms of the awareness campaigns, the campaigns will bring awareness to work place parties of their rights and obligations through initiatives such as ministerial announcements and speeches, social media, infographics, web content, publications and outreach. In terms of enforcement, the Labour Program is hiring and training additional health and safety officers (HSOs) to conduct the estimated initial increase of investigations into non-compliance with the Code and undertake enforcement-related activities. In terms of the development of materials, tools and a list of investigators, the Labour Program is developing materials such as guidelines for the implementation of a new regime, links to provincial/territorial support services and toolkits that will support employers and employees in implementing the new regime and provide them with available resources. Further, a list of investigators from which employers can select an investigator to investigate an occurrence is being co-developed by the labour and employer working group. Finally, the Labour Program is establishing a harassment and violence prevention hub to provide support to employers and employees on the topic of harassment and violence in the work place.
A gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) assessment was conducted as part of the development of Bill C-65 and the related regulations. It is anticipated that individuals and groups that currently experience disproportionate amounts of harassment and violence will benefit disproportionately from this initiative. For example, all federal jurisdiction employees in sex-segregated work places or teams (i.e. male-dominated sectors like police, military or prisons) would benefit from this initiative as they are at increased risk of being the victim of work place harassment and violence. Additionally, the amendments are expected to have greater benefits for employees in the federal jurisdiction in occupations where they tend to
- work with the public (e.g. workers in public transportation);
- work with valuables and handle cash (e.g. workers in banks and shops);
- work in an environment where violence is “accepted” as part of the job (e.g. call centres, security and public law enforcement);
- work with people with special vulnerability (e.g. precarious work situations); and
- work alone (e.g. workers in small businesses).
Further, while the overarching policy intent is to reduce and eliminate harassment and violence, particular initiatives will attempt to take into consideration GBA+ concerns. For example, the first rounds of grants and contributions funding will be focused on those groups who experience harassment and violence disproportionately (e.g. Indigenous peoples). Additionally, the training will be specific to work places and the communication plans developed by the Labour Program will not be uniform but targeted to diverse groups with different perspectives, to ensure initiatives have appropriate relevance to different audiences and work places. Additionally, Labour Program investigators and hub call receivers have been and will be trained to be able to sensitively interact with disadvantaged populations.
The Government of Canada consulted Canadians to find out how harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, is treated under the current legal framework for federally regulated work places, and how it can be strengthened. Consultations with employers and employee groups, subject matter experts, academics, advocacy groups and the public took place between June 2016 and April 2017 in the form of roundtable meetings and teleconferences. An online survey was also conducted with the public, which was open from February 14 to March 9, 2017. The top three sectors represented by survey respondents were educational services, the federal public service, and health care and social assistance. Additionally, 89% of all respondents were women. The results of these consultations are captured in the Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Workplace — Public Consultations: What We Heard report, which highlights the inadequacies of the current federal approach to harassment and violence prevention.
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