In Ontario, all employers must take steps to prevent and react
to harassment and violence in the workplace. Part III.0.1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
requires employers to prepare and annually review policies with
respect to both workplace violence and workplace harassment.
Additionally, a program must be maintained in order to uphold the
workplace violence policy. In this latest announcement from Premier Kathleen Wynne, the
Province of Ontario has unveiled a new action plan to specifically
address sexual harassment and violence: not only in the
workplace, but also in the community, and elsewhere in the
The announcement comes on the heels of some very high profile
sexual harassment cases such as Jian Ghomeshi's dismissal from
the CBC and two Liberal MP's being booted from caucus following
an investigation of sexual harassment. These types of cases have
brought the issue of workplace sexual harassment to the fore of
media consciousness, and now it appears the government will take
legislative action to address a problem faced by nearly a third of
women in the workforce.
Premier Wynne has outlined 13 commitments to combat sexual
harassment. Those commitments expected to impact employers are
Introduce legislation to strengthen
provisions related to sexual violence and harassment in the
workplace, on campus, in housing, and through the civil claim
Introduce legislation to require
colleges and universities to work with students to adopt
campus-wide sexual violence and harassment policies that include
training, prevention, complaint procedures and response
Develop up-to-date training for
front-line workers in the health, community services, education and
justice sectors to better support survivors of sexual assault and
harassment and develop training for workers in the hospitality
sector to empower them to know how to help when they encounter
Enhance workplace laws to strengthen
enforcement under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including
establishing a Code of Practice to help employers develop stronger
sexual harassment policies.
It is unclear when and how the legislation will be drafted, but
it is important that employers be prepared for change. Based on the
above commitments, it appears that employers may be required to
draft their own policies and may be required to work with other
stakeholder groups (e.g. students) in developing policies,
programs, and training initiatives. In the meantime it is important
that employers remain vigilant under the current harassment and
violence requirements. The lawyers at CCPartners will be sure to
provide updates as to how you may be affected as an employer any
time new details are released.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).