ETFO proposes improvements to strengthen sexual violence and harassment protections in the workplace

ETFO proposes improvements to strengthen sexual violence and harassment protections in the workplace

January 22, 2016

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is recommending that Ontario’s Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, 2015 be amended to provide further protection from sexual violence and harassment in workplaces including schools.

“ETFO applauds the government’s desire to do more to strengthen protections when it comes to sexual violence and harassment,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “We concur with government findings that the additional protections provided through Bill 168 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act may not have effectively reduced the severity and frequency of workplace violence and harassment incidents.”

“We believe that the current gaps are due to a lack of workplace violence and harassment training for supervisors and workers as well as employer and government resources to support the implementation of related policies and programs. Bill 132 provides an opportunity to strengthen protections by making changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” added Hammond.

ETFO is recommending that Bill 132 amend and strengthen the Occupational Health and Safety Act by:

including the terms ‘workplace sexual violence’ and ‘workplace sexual harassment’ in definitions and requirements outlined in the Act;
adding Ontario Human Rights Code language that would protect workers against reprisals from supervisors for rejection of sexual solicitation;
strengthening health and safety training of supervisors, workers and Ministry of Labour inspectors; and
hiring more inspectors to enforce the Ontario Health and Safety Act violence and harassment requirements.
ETFO participated in the hearings conducted by the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment and was pleased that the Committee’s recommendations reflected some of the Federation’s concerns.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.