It’s called Bill 111: Speaking Out About Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Act, 2019
The MPP for Nickel Belt is proposing new legislation that would protect people who file complaints about mistreatment at work but a lawyer says she’s unsure if it would help.
New Democrat France Gélinas has put forward Bill 111, an act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect workers who speak out about workplace violence and harassment. The bill has passed first reading
Gélinas says she has heard from too many employees who stay silent about bullying, discrimination or violence where they work.
“But as soon as you start to talk about it, then there is no protection and employers use the fact that there’s no protection to solve the problem by pushing it away,” she said.
“The way the bill is written is that there cannot be any discipline, any dismissal or any other form of reprisal for a long, long list of anything that happens that has to do with violence, harassment or reporting violence or harassment.”
Gélinas says the proposed legislation would also apply to witnesses of workplace violence or harassment who want to speak up and be protected.
Human Rights Complaint
A lawyer representing a former Canadore College employee involved in a human rights complaint says she’s been approached by others with similar concerns about the school.
But Gillian Hnatiw says those complainants are fearful of reprisal because the subject of their complaint remains on the job.
She says the legislation is a good step forward, but questions how it will help.
“If people are so scared in their day-to-day that they don’t feel like they can do anything without making themselves acutely vulnerable, then there’s only so much the law can do about that,” she said.
“The practical reality is it’s very difficult for people who are still in the situation, who are still dependent on their jobs to have the courage and confidence to come forward.”
Third-party Investigator Involved
No one from the college has responded to recent emails but president George Burton has said the complainant was a contract employee who was not re-hired.
Canadore College hired a third party investigator in March to look into complaints from several women about workplace harassment and bullying.
Hnatiw says she’s been told a report from the third party investigator is expected to be presented to the college’s board of directors in the coming months.
“The big question at that point in time is what does the board do with that report? Will they make any of her findings and recommendations public?”
The investigator was hired in early March. It’s not known when her report will be complete.
Posted by CBC on May 23, 2019 from Kate Rutherford