In November of 2014 we reported on Premier Wynne's
announcement that the Government of Ontario would be striking a
special committee to make recommendations to the Legislature
regarding the prevention of sexual violence and harassment in
Ontario workplaces (the "Select Committee"). The Select
Committee's mandate was also to advise on how best to improve
responses to people who have experienced sexual violence and
harassment and to present recommendations on how to remove social
and other barriers that prevent people from coming forward to
report sexual harassment and violence.
The Select Committee was initially tasked with delivering an
Interim Report on their findings by June 4, 2015, a deadline which
was later extended to June 24, 2015. The Interim Report is now
available on the website of the Legislative Assembly. It addresses
a very wide range of issues pertaining to sexual violence and
harassment in Ontario but does contain a focused discussion on how
to prevent and address sexual harassment in Ontario workplaces.
Some of the recommendations that are being considered by the
Requiring employers to promote
proactive and accessible policies and procedures that encourage
Mandating training that encourages
bystander interventions in incidents of sexual harassment or
Creating a separate tribunal
dedicated to receiving complaints of workplace sexual
Amending the Workplace Safety and
Insurance Act to provide benefits to employees who have
experienced psychological trauma as a result of workplace
Funding legal clinics dedicated to
providing support and information to people who have experienced
workplace sexual harassment and violence;
Amending the Occupational Health
& Safety Act ("OHSA") to specifically protect
whistleblowers who notify employers of alleged sexual harassment
and violence at work;
Making workplace training on domestic
violence mandatory under OHSA; and
Having the Ministry of Labour oversee
workplace investigations into incidents of sexual harassment and
violence and also evaluate the outcomes, with the power to
substitute their own decision for that of the employer.
None of these recommendations have been adopted by the Select
Committee and we have no indication of how many of them will be
included in its Final Report, which is set to be presented to the
Legislative Assembly and/or released to the public no later than
December 10, 2015.
Many of the suggestions noted in the Interim Report would
significantly change legal options and obligations surrounding
workplace violence and harassment. It is unlikely that they will
all be adopted by the Select Committee and presented to the
provincial government. However, it seems probable that as a result
of this process the provincial government will be asked to consider
amendments to both the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
We will continue to monitor this story as it progress and will
provide an update on the Final Report once it is released
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