Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Manitoba’s release statistics on workplace harassment that occurred in the provincial government.
In 2017/2018, there were 20 sexual-harassment allegations, 105 bullying or harassment complaints and more than 350 cases involving other forms of misconduct. Of the 20 sexual-harassment cases, 12 were investigated and 35% were found to be substantiated. As for bullying/harassment complaints, 76% of the hundred and five complaints received were investigated and 60% of the investigated cases were found to be substantiated, report says.
“We made a promise to provide accountability to employees and members of the public, we are following through on that commitment,” Premier Brian Pallister says in a statement on June 12, 2018. “We have been actively driving a number of initiatives to ensure there is a strong culture of inclusion, diversity and respect across government.”
On February 22, 2018, the premier announced new measures to ensure that government employees work in a respectful and harassment-free environment. These include significant internal changes to tracking and public-reporting requirements related to sexual-harassment disclosures. Annual public reporting on allegations raised by employees will provide numbers on the following: respondents to allegations, investigations conducted, substantiated and unsubstantiated allegations; and information related to the outcomes of investigations, including disciplinary measures.
Unlike the previous process in which the reporting of sexual-harassment incidents was voluntary and determined on a case-by-case basis, managers are now required to report to the Civil Service Commission any instance of sexual-harassment that is being brought to their attention. Managers must also document sexual-harassment concerns raised and provide their plans, actions taken and timelines to resolve those concerns to reduce reliance on management discretion more than 10,000 public servants and all government political staff have taken respectful-workplace training.
Law firm MLT Aikens has been engaged as the external expert to leave the review and make recommendations for improvement. It is expected to submit its final report the summer.
Ontario has had harassment legislation since June/July 2010. It has been updated, however, because too few companies included the Occupational Health & Safety committee to create a plan and procedures. Sometimes a zero-tolerance policy was all it took but it never did get to the root of the problem. For instance, a couple had a terrible fight prior to work shift late in the evening and one of the workers needed to relay that information to the acting supervisor on shift to ensure the safety of all at the place of work. This did not happen because of the lack of training and procedures so that all workers and management know how to deal with many internal and external situations. The worker’s husband came into the plant early in the morning looking for his wife and the company was not ready to deal with it.
This is just one case and I was glad to hear that the government in Manitoba has found it necessary to include sexual and physical harassment in the workplace and the public sector. A little late on their part but I’m glad to see it as part of their process.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.