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02 January 2019
On 25 October 2018 Bill C-65 – which comprises an Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code (Harassment and Violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act 2017 – received royal assent. Among other things, the act will amend the Canada Labour Code and expand the obligations of federal employers, particularly in relation to workplace harassment and violence.
The government of Canada has stated that it intends to bring the act into force within two years following royal assent, which will have the following effects:
any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.
These are significant amendments. Currently, the code does not directly address harassment. To access a remedy, it has been necessary to show that harassment was workplace violence, as defined in the regulations, or contrary to another provision in Part II of the code or the regulations. This could sometimes be difficult because these provisions were drafted to address physical hazards and illnesses. They did not adapt well to non-physical hazards, like harassment, unless they caused physical injury or made an employee ill. The act will bring Part II of the code in line with other provincial jurisdictions which have already enacted harassment and violence prevention obligations in health and safety legislation.
To support the implementation of the act regulations will be enacted. Earlier in 2018, the government solicited public input on these proposed regulations and it is expected that a summary of comments received, as well as a detailed outline of any changes to the proposed regulatory requirements, will be published in future.
For further information on this topic please contact Shane D Todd or Cathy Chandler at Fasken by telephone (+1 416 366 8381) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Fasken website can be accessed at www.fasken.com.
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Shane D Todd