On December 4, 2014, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced new
initiatives to raise awareness of sexual violence and harassment,
to enhance prevention measures and to combat harassment, violence
and discrimination on the basis of sex. The initiatives are
also intended to improve support available for victims of
harassment, discrimination and violence.
The initiatives include the following:
A public education campaign to be launched in early 2015;
Measures to improve government caucus policies, procedures and
training around workplace discrimination, harassment and violence
prevention, including training for all MPPs and staff, as well as a
review of policies in place to ensure conformity with best
The creation of a standing Roundtable on Violence Against Women
to provide input into the government's initiatives; and
Consideration of options for enhancing support for victims of
sexual violence relating to the criminal justice system, policing,
health care, education, post-secondary campuses and
workplaces. An action plan on this item is to be brought
forward by March 8, 2015.
Ontario employers have a number of legal duties under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act in respect of workplace
safety including undertaking risk assessments, and developing,
implementing and maintaining policies and programs to address
workplace violence and workplace harassment. Every Ontario
employer must prepare a policy on workplace violence and workplace
harassment. Moreover, the Occupational Health and Safety
Act requires Ontario employers to review their workplace
harassment and workplace violence policies as often as necessary,
but at least annually.
As the 2014 calendar year comes to an end, Ontario employers may
want follow in the government's footsteps and schedule
some time soon to review their workplace harassment and workplace
violence policies for compliance with applicable legislation, and
to ensure their policies and programs are appropriate given the
characteristics and risk assessments of the workplace.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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