January 31, 2018
Bill C-65, Aimed at Enhancing Protection of Federal Workers, Passes Second Reading
In the wake of recent allegations of sexual misconduct by Members of Parliament, the first subject of debate at the House of Commons on January 29, 2018, was Bill C-65, 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 “Bill”).
Following only three hours of debate, Members of Parliament unanimously agreed to pass the Bill at its second reading and refer it to the Standing Committee.
As reported in an earlier In A Flash article (found here), the Bill was introduced on November 7, 2017, with the objective of expanding procedural obligations which are owed by employers to address allegations of harassment and violence (including sexual harassment and violence) in federally regulated workplaces.
Most notably, the Bill proposes to amend Part II of the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) to include “physical or psychological injuries and illnesses” as a preventative purpose of Part II of the Code, and to require federally regulated employers to:
- Investigate, record, and report all occurrences of harassment or violence known to the employer, in accordance with the regulations;
- Take measures to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the workplace, in accordance with the regulations;
- Respond to occurrences of harassment and violence and offer support to employees affected by harassment and violence in the workplace; and
- Refer unresolved complaints of harassment or violence directly to the Minister rather than to an internal workplace committee or health and safety representative.
The Bill does not contain a definition of “harassment”, as this term is to be defined by regulation.
If passed, the Bill will also amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, thereby extending these protections to all parliamentary employers, who were previously exempt from Part II of the Code.
Although the Bill has only passed its second reading and has yet to receive Royal Assent, there seems to be overwhelming support for the amendments by Members of Parliament. As such, employers are encouraged to review their workplace policies and procedures regarding investigation of and response to allegations of harassment and violence. In doing so, employers can confirm compliance with the new requirements or implement any necessary modifications to ensure compliance once the changes come into force.
Further updates and information will be provided as the Bill progresses.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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