Posts in Respect in the Workplace

harassment, newfoundland, workplace bullying, workplace harassment, canada, harassment prevention, prevention training, harassment legislation

With 70% rise in workplace violence in past 10 years, new rules welcome, says WorkplaceNL

January 18th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

WorkplaceNL accepted more than 230 claims of violence in the workplace, last year, says CEO

Over the last 10 years, workplace violence has increased by over 70 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Dennis Hogan, CEO of WorkplaceNL.

He revealed the startling statistic Wednesday at a government event announcing changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“In 2018 alone, WorkplaceNL accepted more than 230 claims that were caused by violence in the workplace, and that includes worker-on-worker violence,” he said.

Eighty-five per cent of those claims came from the health-care sector, he said, “particulary in relation to long-term care facilities and patients that may have cognitive challenges and impairments.”

The rest of the claims come largely from the service industry, he said.

Hogan says workplace violence has increased by over 70 per cent in the last 10 years. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The regulation changes announced Wednesday by Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister of Service NL, cover worker-on-worker violence and harrassment for the first time and include the following new rules:

  • Employers must develop and implement a plan to prevent harrassment, as well as a plan for dealing with dealing with harassment.
  • Employers must investigate any complaints and keep all informatin shared between them and the employee confidential.
  • Employers must take harassment-prevention training.

The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2020, leaving one year for employers to develop harassment-prevention plans, risk assessments and conduct training, which will be provided for free by WorkplaceNL.

Changes are ‘monumental’

Paula Corcoran knows first-hand how workplace harassment can bring a life and a career to a halt.

She says it took her seven years to recover from the harassment and abuse she suffered for three years while working as an aircraft technician.

“The sexual harassment, the innuendos, the conversations that often happened around the quality of my work, the rationale behind my ability to do my work, the rationale behind my ability to be promoted were often — sometimes inadvertently, but sometimes directly — linked to my ability to perform sexual duties, for example,” she said.

“It is very difficult to be faced with that type of harassment and innuendos, and undermined on a daily basis.”

Paula Corcoran says she suffered bullying and harassment at her workplace for three years, and that she had to change careers because of it. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

She said she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and social anxiety because of what she endured and that she had to switch careers entirely because of it; she now works in the mental health and addicitons sector.

The regulation changes announced Wednesday are “monumental,” she said, for both employees and employers.

“If this regulation was in place when I was working, I feel that the harassment would have been challenged and taken care of in the first months of my employment, and I would have continued in that field. I really enjoyed working in the aircraft industry.”

Richard Alexander, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, agreed with Corcoran that employers will also be better off with the new regulations.

“This is a very positive announcement,” he said.

“I think where this will help is smaller employers that never really thought about the potential for this in workplaces.”

Changes come after scandal in the House

Harassment is a familiar topic for Gambin-Walsh, who filed a complaint against fellow MHA Eddie Joyce, while they were both cabinet ministers.

The ensuing investigation became a matter of great public interest and scrutiny, leading to many elected officials calling for a better way to handle complaints in the future.

The provincial government passed a private member’s resolution to ask the privileges and elections Committee to create a new harassment policy specific to MHAs.

Gambin-Walsh, minister of Service NL, says the new changes will make a safer workplace for everybody. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

In the end, Joyce was found to have violated the members’ code of conduct and was forced to apologize in the House of Assembly.

Former MHA Cathy Bennett lobbied for the changes to the legislation before her resignation. She took up the cause after a man was acquitted of causing a disturbance for hurling a sexist insult at NTV reporter Heather Gillis.

“A workplace can also include public sidewalks where a female reporter may be doing her job,” Bennett said in a release at the time.

9 health and safety trends for 2019, #metoo, harassment, bullying, prevention

9 health and safety trends for 2019

January 15th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

Harassment is biggest workplace hazard

Jan 14, 2019

By Dave Rebbitt 

Looking ahead in 2019, some things that dominated the latter half of 2018 will continue to have an interesting impact on workplace health and safety:


In 2018 Alberta joined other provinces in declaring bullying and harassment a workplace hazard. This is a result of the rising concerns over mental health, and it is pushing safety professionals away from the traditional small “h” health and safety.

In those provinces that have made bullying and harassment a workplace hazard, it is rapidly becoming the number 1 issue for regulators to deal with. That should put it on everyone’s radar.

Regulators are handing out orders to employers to investigate harassment complaints and conduct hazard assessments, put programs in place and provide necessary training.

Most people are ill equipped to investigate a harassment complaint and the versions of events can shift. The person complaining tends to be traumatized leading to inconsistent statements.

North American workplaces tend to prize those who are driven, can accomplish goals and get others to work harder. While those attributes exist in every leader, they also describe bullies. There is a big difference, but it is sometimes hard to see. Addressing these issues will challenge all safety people in the coming years.

Determining the safety of a workplace is a fairly well-established process. However, determining the mental health of a workplace for a specific person is not. Bullying and harassment is not about physical hazards or potential risk. It lies with perception, feeling and human interaction. Complex is an understatement.

I have seen many bullying and harassment investigations make things much worse by being done poorly or being delayed. Does your organization even have a process that is clear and understandable?

Random drug testing

The question of random testing was clearly spoken to by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Irving decision in 2013. However, there has been a battle in Alberta between energy giant Suncor and the union representing many of the workers, Unifor.

In December, Unifor and Suncor reached an agreement and random testing will proceed in the first quarter of this year. While the case was not fully resolved, both parties seemed to agree that drug issues were present.

To justify random testing, the Supreme Court of Canada has placed the burden of proof on the employer to demonstrate that it is needed and there are no other reasonable options. The requirement for testing had been contested by Unifor on the grounds that it was an infringement of worker rights and that there was no significant problem that would merit random testing.

With marijuana legalization, Unifor may have conceded that Suncor’s argument for random testing to maintain worker safety had some merit. Unfortunately, this leaves no definitive decision on record regarding the imposition of random testing in a unionized workplace.

Marijuana was legalized

Despite the doom scenarios and the many presentations at conferences regarding marijuana in the workplace, the sky did not fall. Online conversations were rife with opinion and ignorance on this topic.

Most employers already had all the tools they needed to deal with legalization at their disposal. Drug and alcohol testing for cause has been with us for many years. The debate was around impairment, which is not appropriate at all.

Drug testing is about setting reasonable limits. Workers who test positive are deemed to have violated the policy on drugs and alcohol. They are not deemed to be impaired. Having breached the policy does come with varying consequences depending on the situation and the findings of an investigation.

Many safety professionals refused to participate in the marijuana legalization hysteria. In the end, the overall impact was moot.

New designation

Many are aware that the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP), brought out a new designation. Joining the CRSP is the Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST). The intake has begun and there is a lot of interest in the new designation.

CRST is meant to assist those with significant experience in the field make the leap to a national professional designation. The educational requirements are less than what is required for the CRSP and the exam will also be simpler. CRST provides a more logical career progression to safety practitioners across Canada as the CRSP may not be a good fit for everyone.

ISO 45001 was released

I have written about this one before and the news is not terribly exciting or impactful. It has prompted the CSA and ANSI to review CSA Z1000 and ANSI Z10 to find alignment with the new ISO standard. Some governments are looking at it as a possible measure of safety or a tool to assess employers.

I would still maintain that very few companies have a management system. Such things work well for large employers but not at all for small ones. “Management system” has become synonymous with “program” in much the same way many interchangeably use risk and hazard.

BBS continues to wither. Is safety culture next?

This is a surprising one in some ways. Behaviour based safety (BBS) has defined safety for 30 years, but more and more professionals are turning away and questioning the utility of BBS.

Over the past years I have seen a growing number of safety professionals, and students, question the underlying assumptions of BBS.

I see the same conversations happening around other buzzword-heavy pursuits, like “safety culture.” We see things like “safety differently”, “human and organizational performance” (HOP) and “human factors” being bandied about by people who have been selling BBS and are looking for the next thing. Understanding of these important concepts seems optional to some.

Criminal prosecutions of safety incidents

Last year I wrote about the Fournier case in Quebec where a business owner was charged with manslaughter. Manslaughter simply means someone dies as a result of a law being broken. In this case it was the safety law.

Sylvain Fournier was convicted in September and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In Ontario, the business owner of Rainbow Concrete in Sudbury, Ont. has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. Criminal charges were laid even though the Ministry of Labour had laid 12 charges in connection with a death on the company property on Feb. 5, 2017.

Interestingly, the police and Ministry of Labour worked together on the case and the police found enough grounds to lay a criminal charge.

Use of the negligence and manslaughter provisions of the Criminal Code may be on the rise. A recent story in Calgary highlighted the Westray memorandum signed by police services and the intent to investigate serious workplace incidents by police. Twenty-eight Calgary police detectives have received special training to assist them in completing these investigations. More police services are sure to follow suit.


By the end of 2018, all federally regulated workplaces had to be complaint with the Global Harmonized System (GHS). Because provinces regulate most of the workplaces in Canada, Health Canada is trying to coordinate a simultaneous move to GHS. Health Canada owns WHMIS and now GHS. The controlled products regulations that governed WHMIS were replaced by the hazardous products regulations years ago.

WHMIS 2015 is the transitional process and training to allow companies to prepare and train employees for the transition to GHS. No word on when the legislative changes will be made in the provinces. This has caused a bit of confusion, as suppliers are already providing safety data sheets (SDSs) instead of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and GHS labelling is already in place on many products.

Professional regulation

In 2018, BCRSP was working in several provinces to establish at least a definition of what a safety professional is. There have been meetings with government and regulatory officials in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

The way to a recognized profession nationally actually lies with the provinces recognizing legitimate organizations and designations. It seems counterintuitive that to get a national profession, we must start in at least a few provinces.

However, this is how almost all other professions have begun and become recognized and even regulated. BCRSP has a new commitment to advocacy for the profession and engagement with CRSPs and the new CRSTs.

This has included providing comment and stakeholder engagement on major legislative and policy changes that would affect CRSPs and CRSTs. It will include more connect events and engagement with CRSPs and CRSTs in 2019.

BCRSP is working with the Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (CSSE) on an accreditation framework to explore other possible designations. Work will be undertaken to establish an educational standard for safety programs in Canada as they vary quite a bit.

KPMG in Canada joins forces with Respect Group Inc., Kpmg, respect, workplace abuse, work bullying, bullying prevention, online training,

KPMG in Canada joins forces with Respect Group Inc.

January 15th, 2019 Press Releases, Respect in the Workplace



Jan 15, 2019, 08:00 ET

Strategic alliance formed to create respectful, healthy and safe workplaces

TORONTOJan. 15, 2019 /CNW/ – KPMG in Canada announced today that it has joined forces with Respect Group, a forward-thinking organization founded by former NHLer turned victims’ rights crusader Sheldon Kennedy to deliver training to organizations to equip employees with the education and skills needed to prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD) in the workplace. Together, KPMG and Respect Group will provide companies with a leading-edge training curriculum that addresses the evolving needs of the #MeToo era.

“By joining forces with KPMG we elevate the potential to really change culture, not just push for compliance. This alliance and our collaborative approach to creating more respectful workplaces allows organizations to move from policy to making this a priority,” says Sheldon Kennedy, Co-Founder of Respect Group. “I am excited to keep moving the bar alongside KPMG!”

The curriculum begins with a foundational, online ‘Respect in the Workplace’ certification for employees before shifting to customized, client-specific, on-site workshops that build awareness and knowledge, followed by ongoing ‘Lunch & Learns’ to provide employees with the skills needed to contribute to a respectful workplace.

“Enabling organizations to build and sustain respectful cultures and mentally healthy workplaces are key priorities for us at KPMG,” says Soula Courlas, Partner and National Leader for People & Change Advisory Services. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Sheldon and Respect Group to help businesses enhance their workplace cultures, not only to eliminate unacceptable behaviours, but to create positive and supportive environments that unlock the diverse skills and ideas of their most valuable asset – their people. We truly look forward to making a positive impact on workplaces across the country through this practical and powerful service offering.”

By joining forces, KPMG in Canada and Respect Group will begin to change workplace cultures by helping companies on their journey to prevent BAHD, empower the bystander and create a psychologically safe workplace.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, an Audit, Tax and Advisory firm ( is a limited liability partnership, established under the laws of Ontario, and the Canadian member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG has over 7,000 professionals/employees in 38 locations across Canada serving private and public sector clients. KPMG is consistently recognized as an employer of choice and one of the best places to work in the country.

The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity, and describes itself as such.

About Respect Group Inc.

Respect Group ( was incorporated on April 5th, 2004 by co-founders, Sheldon Kennedy and Wayne McNeil, to pursue their common passion: the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD). Respect Group is made up of a team of over 30 talented individuals whose passion is to create a global culture of Respect. As Canada’s leading on-line provider of prevention education related to BAHD, Respect Group has certified over 1.2 Million Canadians involved in sport, schools and the workplace. Respect Group is a Certified B Corporation (


For further information: Ashley Lewis, Senior Manager, National Communications, KPMG in Canada, (416) 777-3787,

harassment, ontario, wsib, workplace harassment

She was grabbed, endured sexual taunts and followed into the washroom. The WSIB says this wasn’t workplace harassment

January 7th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace
The Star


The presence of “pin-up girls and scantily clad models” throughout a workplace is “unprofessional,” but is not bullying or harassment.

The use of “sexually explicit language” to and about “women and alternative lifestyles” on the job is “inappropriate,” but is not bullying or harassment.

Misogynistic comments about “having to work with women” are “upsetting,” but are not bullying or harassment.

Being physically swarmed by members of the public and called a dyke on the job are “unwelcome” behaviours, but are not bullying or harassment.

And none of it is grounds for a worker diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress to win a chronic mental stress claim, according to a recent decision by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

“I’m actually, I guess, shocked more than anything. Not by the fact they denied it. But the language they used to excuse it all is, in this day and age, I find that really shocking,” said Margery Wardle, a former heavy equipment operator whose case was shut down by the board last month.

Margery Wardle, who had worked as a heavy equipment operator with the former City of Nepean, is shown on the job at a tree farm in this undated photo. Her chronic mental stress claim was recently denied by the WSIB, which ruled her negative experiences on the job, including being subjected to sexually explicit comments, were simply “interpersonal conflict.”
Margery Wardle, who had worked as a heavy equipment operator with the former City of Nepean, is shown on the job at a tree farm in this undated photo. Her chronic mental stress claim was recently denied by the WSIB, which ruled her negative experiences on the job, including being subjected to sexually explicit comments, were simply “interpersonal conflict.”  (SUPPLIED PHOTO)



“They don’t try and pretend that it didn’t happen. They just dismissed it.”

While the decision seen by the Star does not dispute Wardle’s experiences on the job, it says her “stress appears to be in response to interpersonal conflict,” which is not covered by the board’s chronic mental stress policy.

“Interpersonal conflict is a typical feature of normal employment and is generally not considered to be a substantial work-related stressor,” the decision reads.

In a statement to the Star, board spokesperson Christine Arnott said the WSIB wanted “anyone dealing with work-related chronic mental stress (CMS) to get the help and support they need.”

The policy, which took effect last year, extends benefits coverage to cases where employees experience a “substantial work-related stressor” and abusive workplace behaviour that rises to the level of workplace harassment. Under the policy, workers are not entitled to chronic stress compensation for “typical features” of employment, including problems stemming from discipline, demotions, transfers or termination.

“When we look at these claims we have to consider all facts and circumstances surrounding the events and allegations, including any actions the employer has taken to address the issues,” Arnott said.

“The definition of harassment that guides our decisions, and is included in our CMS policy, is consistent with the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) and guidance from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.”

Wardle’s lawyer, Laura Lunansky of the Toronto-based legal clinic Injured Worker Consultants, said she was “surprised” by the board’s decision.

“And not very much surprises me anymore about decisions,” she said.

“It was surprising because on its face, it doesn’t make sense in a way that I think shows a complete lack of understanding of the human rights code, and of what a toxic workplace might look like,” Lunansky added.

“You have comments that I think any reasonable person would recognize are evidence of discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation.”

Wardle’s claim dates back to the mid ’90s when she began working in public works for the City of Nepean. As one of the only women in the workplace, she was repeatedly subjected to sexually explicit comments, references to her sexuality, pornographic material in the workplace, and physical harassment and intimidation, including being grabbed and followed into the women’s washrooms, according to her claim.

The tipping point was being “swarmed and verbally attacked” by members of the public while working at a hockey arena in 2002, after which she went on sick leave and was subsequently diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the WSIB’s decision, Wardle’s concerns with her workplace were not reported to her employer until she was hired into a permanent position, and a subsequent investigation found a “healthy workplace free of harassment.”

Wardle said she repeatedly raised her concerns with management, who initially took some steps to address the problems. But when Nepean amalgamated with the City of Ottawa, she said that layer of management disappeared and some of her harassers received promotions.

“That’s when the retaliation started,” she said. “I did try and return to work, but that didn’t last long because the behaviour just intensified.”

The sexually explicit behaviour, misogynistic and derogatory comments she experienced did not constitute sexual or verbal harassment, the WSIB’s decision said. As for being repeatedly followed into the women’s washroom, the decision said her employer “noted that the women’s restrooms were used by the male staff out of convenience of location.”

“While Ms. Wardle reports recurrent physical harassment and intimidation by her co-workers, I find the incidents of blocking her path of travel and bumping her on the stairs do not provide evidence of abusive or harassing behaviour,” it adds.

Critics have already warned that the acceptance criteria for chronic mental stress claims are too narrow. Workers filing for chronic mental stress, for example, must prove their workplace was the “predominant cause” of their illness — while workers with physical injuries must simply show their workplace was a significant contributing factor.

As first reported by the Star, an internal WSIB audit shows that 94 per cent of chronic mental stress claims between January and May were denied.

Previously, workers could only seek compensation for mental health injuries caused by a traumatic incident, not those triggered by ongoing harassment or trauma in their workplace — which labour advocates and legal experts described in a 2016 ombudsman complaint as unconstitutional and discriminatory. Following legislative reforms, the board subsequently changed its policy to allow chronic mental stress claims.

Initially, the new policy only covered claims from January 2018. It was amended to allow retroactive claims following a lawsuit involving Wardle’s case, launched by prominent Toronto-based labour law firm Goldblatt Partners.

Wardle and Lunansky plan to appeal the recently denied claim.

“The (chronic mental stress) policy is flawed, we know that and we will challenge that,” said Lunansky.

“But even within the policy, this should have been allowed because it’s just patently a case of harassment and a poisonous work environment and incidents that go way beyond interpersonal conflict.”

Ontario’s human rights code prohibits harassment — or unwelcome comments and conduct that are offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning or sexualized — as well as the creation of a “poisonous environment,” which is considered a form of discrimination.

Wardle said she contacted the Ontario Human Rights Commission while she was still working and was told the incidents she described were “sexual harassment and it should not be happening in my workplace.”

“My career is gone now, a career I loved. I was really proud of what I did for a living. Losing that has been a tremendous loss,” Wardle said.

“So I figure at this point I might as well keep on fighting. This is what I’m left with.”

Correction — January 7, 2019: The photo caption was edited from a previous version that misspelled Margery Wardle’s given name.

Are you being bullied, humiliated or abused at work? Many Canadians are, study finds

December 24th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace


The Globe and Mail


Harassment’s toll

Workplace harassment in all its ugly forms is taking a heavy and crushing toll in Canada.

And women are suffering abuse more than men across all categories, a new study by Statistics Canada researchers warns.

Verbal abuse is the most prevalent, senior research analyst Darcy Hango and senior researcher Melissa Moyser said in their report.

Mr. Hango and Ms. Moyser based their study on the results of a 2016 General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, when people were polled on five categories, including verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, physical violence and sexual attention or harassment.

Proportion of men and women who reported workplace harassment in the past 12 months, by type, 2016

workplace harassment statistics, statscan, abuse, work abuseAmong their findings:

One: Nineteen per cent of women and 13 per cent of men said they had suffered workplace harassment over the last year.

Two: Verbal abuse was most common, reported by 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men.

Three: Verbal abuse was followed by “humiliating behaviour,” suffered by 6 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men.

Four: About 3 per cent of women and men said they were subject to threats.

Five: Sexual harassment affected 4 per cent of women, and less than 1 per cent of men. And among the women, the researchers said, “more than half were targeted by clients or customers.”

Six: Health care workers were “most likely” to have been harassed, and “the differences between those in health and other occupations are more pronounced for women than men.”

Seven: Almost half of the men and 34 per cent of the women harassed by a manager “had a weak sense of belonging” to their employer. That compared to 16 per cent among both women and men who had not been harassed.

Obviously, this takes a heavy toll.

“Workers who reported workplace harassment were more likely to be dissatisfied with their current job, have low motivation to do their best work, be more likely to say they are planning to leave their current work, and have a weak sense of belonging to their workplace,” Mr. Hango and Ms. Moyser said.

“These workers also had worse health – general and mental – as well as higher levels of reported stress, and a less hopeful view of the future,” they added.

“Harassment in the workplace therefore has a considerable impact not only on people’s lives, but also on employers.”

harassment, work, healthcare, canada harassment, training harassment, abuse prevention, harassment prevention, respect, women, metoo, #metoo Canada

19% of women, 13% of men report workplace harassment in StatsCan survey

December 20th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace

Health-care workers, who interact with public frequently, report highest level of abuse

Workers in health occupations reported the highest levels of harassment, with 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men saying they’d been abused in the past year. (Shutterstock / Syda Productions)

About 19 per cent of Canadian women and 13 per cent of men reported being harassed in the workplace, with the highest level of harassment in health-care jobs, according to Statistics Canada.

Verbal abuse was the most common form of harassment for both men and women with 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men reporting they’d experienced abuse in the preceding year.

Sexual harassment was most likely to affect women, with four per cent saying they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace, compared to fewer than one per cent of men.

Young, unmarried women were most likely to report some form of sexual harassment.

The results, based on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey, gathered data in 2016, the year before the #MeToo movement focused attention on sexual harassment. The report was released Monday.

“That’s why we have to follow up,” said Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté, a managing editor for Statistics Canada, who says researchers have suggested repeating the survey amid the more heightened awareness of harassment that followed #MeToo.

The survey conducted from August to December 2016 questioned 19,609 men and women aged 15 to 64, who had worked for pay in the preceding year.

Harassment from clients, customers

LaRochelle-Côté said survey questions asked people whether they had experienced verbal abuse, humiliating behaviour, threats, physical violence, and unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment in the workplace in the past year.

“It doesn’t mean they reported the situation to their employer,” he said.

About 53 per cent of women said the harassment came from a client or a customer at work.  compared with 42 per cent of men.

Women were most likely to report sexual harassment in the workplace, with young, unmarried women most affected. (Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock)

“A lot of people who work with the public — and that includes, for example, people who work in health-care occupations — have higher levels of harassment because they have higher levels of interaction with the public,” LaRochelle-Côté said.

People working in the health-care related jobs experienced the highest levels of harassment, with about 23 per cent reporting they had been harassed in the past year.

In health occupations, including doctors and nurses, 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men reported harassment in the past year.

Part of the reason for higher levels of harassment of women is that more of them work in health-related jobs, he said.

Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, says he thinks Statistics Canada’s numbers are low. A survey the council did earlier this year found 68 per cent of hospital staff in Ontario said they have been victims of physical violence at work in the past year.

“Negative attitudes toward women are imported by family members,” he told CBC News. “Low levels of staffing and quality-of-care issues combine together to create a situation where people feel free to express the anger they have.”

He recommends an increase in staffing because too many health-care workers are on their own in both nursing homes and hospitals.

Hurley said his union is pressing for a change in the criminal code to increase sentences for people who assault health-care workers.

It’s also urging some means of flagging troublesome patients and warning nurses and doctors about patients involved with law enforcement, to help them know they must be extra cautious. Earlier this year in Kingston, Ont., a prison inmate disarmed an officer and fired two shots in the hospital.

Among men, 39 per cent of those reporting harassment in the Statistics Canada survey said they’d been harassed by a supervisor or manager, while among women, more — 34 per cent — said they’d been harassed by peers or colleagues.

The survey found that being harassed at work was associated with stress, poor mental health and lack of motivation.

“It does have implications for employers if you look at the higher proportion of workers who’ve been harassed who want to leave their jobs and even more so if they’ve been harassed by a person in a position of power,” LaRochelle-Côté said.

About 47 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women who had been harassed by a supervisor or manager reported a weak sense of belonging to their current organization, compared with 16 per cent of both women and men who said they had not been harassed at work in the past year.

workplace harassment, work, abuse, harassment, bullying, suicide, military, canada, training, suicide prevention

Armed Forces confirms Shilo reservist who died by suicide was bullied

December 19th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace



The Canadian Armed Forces is accepting responsibility for its role in the death of a Manitoba-based soldier, who took his own life on Nov. 18, 2017.

Cpl. Nolan Caribou, who was originally from Pukatawagon, had been with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles for five years when he died in Shilo. At the time of Caribou’s death, the military would only say the reservist died during a training exercise.


The military released a statement Monday confirming Caribou took his own life and pointing to “deep administrative deficiencies and troubling recurring activities in the Minto Armoury to include bullying, unsanctioned fighting, inappropriate use of alcohol resulting in violence and initiation activities.”

“Although we do not know everything going on in Cpl. Caribou’s life, I believe that the harassment he faced and the failure of unit leaders to intervene contributed to his death,” said Brigadier-General Trevor Cadieu, Commander 3rd Canadian Division.


“I have met with and personally committed to Corporal Caribou’s family that his death will not be in vain, and that we must work to be better for this painful experience. In order to unlock these opportunities for the family and affected soldiers to heal and grow, it is essential that we first accept responsibility for our role in the death of this soldier,” Cadieu said.

He adds that remedial action against five members has been taken, including the removal of one individual from a senior command position he was previously selected for.

The Canadian Armed Forces continues to investigate.

women harassment, women workplace, workplace harassment, canada, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual harassment in the workplace, training, harassment training

Women are more likely to experience workplace harassment than men: StatCan

December 18th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace

The Canadian Press

Global News, December 17, 2018

A new study suggests women are more likely than men to experience workplace harassment and that it’s more common in health-related fields.

The Statistics Canada report, “Harassment in Canadian workplaces,” suggests most people don’t experience abuse on the job but that a significant number do — including verbal abuse, humiliating behaviour, threats, physical violence and unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment.

Among roughly 9,000 respondents, 19 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men said they had been harassed at work.

The findings come from 2016 data from the General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, which asked Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 about incidents of harassment during the previous 12 months.

Senior researcher Melissa Moyser notes much has changed in society since the poll was conducted, pointing to increased general awareness of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.


“This is definitely pre-MeToo,” said Moyser, based in Ottawa but reached in Gatineau, Que., on Monday.

“We would expect that with the sort of growing awareness of sexual harassment, unwanted sexual attention, etc., the results could look different when we do the next version of this.”

Both men and women said clients or customers were the most common source of harassment, including 53 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men.

But Moyser said women appear especially vulnerable to this type of abuse because they work in jobs that tend to have a high degree of public interaction such as health care, social services and the education sector.


Overall, those in the health field — including nurses and doctors — had a 23-per-cent probability of reporting harassment, including 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men.

In contrast, those in natural and applied sciences — such as engineers and computer and information system professionals — had a nine-per-cent probability of reporting harassment.

“A lot of that is exposure because women are interacting with these customers and clients more frequently,” said Moyser. “That is who they are being harassed by and that’s also why we see that women are more likely to be harassed than men.”


Researchers also linked workplace harassment to workplace well-being, such as job dissatisfaction and level of motivation. Women who reported harassment were three times more likely to say they were unhappy with their job, at 14 per cent, than those who did not. Similar results were found for men.

But Moyser said not enough is known to determine if harassment was a causal factor in less job satisfaction.

“It could be that workplace harassment occurs in the context of workplaces where there are other sorts of toxic elements. It’s just generally a negative situation at work,” Moyser said.

Harassment by a supervisor or manager was also associated with more negative effects on workplace well-being than harassment by someone else.


The study also linked workplace harassment to personal well-being, with 18 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women who reported incidents saying they had poor mental health, compared to six per cent of men and eight per cent of women who had not been harassed.

Moyser says the general social survey is being “modernized” with possible future questions including more detail on the race of the worker and the sex of the perpetrator. The survey is usually done on a cycle of five to seven years, but future work-related questions could be integrated into another general social survey before that.

Other findings include the fact that after clients or customers, the next most common source of harassment for men was their supervisor or manager at 39 per cent. Among women, it was colleagues and peers at 34 per cent.

Thirteen per cent of women and 10 per cent of men reported having experienced verbal abuse, while six per cent of women and five per cent of men reported experiencing humiliating behaviour.

Men and women were equally likely to report having experienced threats in the workplace at three per cent each, and about four per cent of women and less than one per cent of men reported having experienced sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention in the workplace.

Finally, about three per cent of women reported having experienced physical violence, versus about one per cent of men.


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The Most Important Workplace Conversation: Our Mental Health

December 17th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace


Drew Aversa, MBA & RYT

Featured on FORBES

Have you wondered why your workplace isn’t much better than your friend’s, yet the grass always seems to look greener? Or why the majority of employees are checked out at work today? It’s because we aren’t talking about the most important thing at work: everyone’s mental health.

If mindset is the most important thing to creating winning cultures, then why aren’t we talking about mental health as a key performance indicator of organizational success?

What do you think of when you hear the words “mental health?” To many people, mental health screams stigma and craziness because of the way it has been portrayed in movies for years. Americans also tend to have it worse because duty was and is a staple of our ethnocentric view of success, impeding the ability to express vulnerability and inclusive views that make every human — no matter how rich or poor — feel safe and heard.

As we ignore the importance of mental health in the workplace, we continue to see depression rise and stress being recognized as a top health epidemic of our time. According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, Ph.D. of Stanford, some workplace conditions may even result in premature death. Isn’t it interesting how we can talk about cancer all day, yet we can’t talk about what might be spreading cancer in the first place (i.e., stress)?

It’s easy to talk root cause analysis in business, yet the western view thinks it can separate mind-body-spirit as if they were made in different assembly plants. It’s for this reason that I speak nationally on the importance of brain health for business leaders — because it is the most important thing that makes or breaks companies today.

Before my business life, I was critically injured as a firefighter. I never received counseling, and I had no idea the trauma my body endured and the trauma I saw would catch up with me because, in health care, the mind and body are taught to be separate. Healing naturally, seeking out top experts and truth, I transformed my life from firefighter to Fortune 150. Today, I coach business leaders on how to break through trauma so it does not creep into the workplace as negative projection — something that’s seen all too often in toxic workplaces.

But it isn’t the toxic workplace that’s killing us; it’s the aggregate sum of people who haven’t resolved their own trauma who are killing themselves slowly and the people under their power.

As stress rises and begins to impact even the most resilient of leaders, it is critical that everyone understand how the brain impacts total and organizational health. Say it with me now: My brain is the hormone control center. My brain is the thought center. My brain holds my breathing center. My brain is the reaction center. My brain can get me into Harvard. Lastly, my brain is more important than I ever realized.

When we start to look at brain health, we begin to ask questions that every worker can get behind because they don’t have the stigma attached to them. If we choose to avoid prioritizing mental health at work, we will continue to perpetuate every issue we’ve seen, from #MeToo scandals to exploiting workers. A leader doesn’t need to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to have cloudy judgment and a deep-rooted bias.

What’s crazier than the stigma of mental health today is not talking about ways people can evolve to a higher consciousness to truly lead others during one of the most uncertain and dynamic times in world history, as innovation causes massive disruptions across numerous industries. Focusing on healthy minds can allow us to have healthy business conversations on topics like:

• Gender equity

• A declining middle class

• Politics prohibiting progress

• Inclusive business practices

• Transformational corporate social responsibility

As a leader who broke through life-changing challenges, my trauma-informed view sheds a unique perspective on the topic of mental health and stress in the workplace. It also lends a view of truth and inspiration, so we can begin treating mental health as a key pillar of business success.

If you’re ready to change your workplace culture so everyone can thrive, here are some action items I recommend:

1. Form a peer support team. Mental health issues take a 360-degree approach. Not only do people have immediate health issues to take care of, but also they are not thinking clearly (finances run amiss, diet goes out the window, depression keeps them in bed for weeks, etc.). A peer support or care team needs to break down the walls of the current HR compliance mindset — the hands-off approach that lets top talent slip into the void on stress leave — that is rooted in fear. Caring is common sense.

2. Care about your co-worker. A lot of adults are solo as they leave their families to find lonely success in big cities. You don’t have to love everything about your co-worker, but you do have to care.

3. Set a reminder. It’s human nature to forget. Set a reminder on your calendar to check in with your teammate who is out. Never forget about people, or they may one day forget about you.

4. Meditate before team meetings. For every veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are 30 civilians with it. Car accidents, health issues, abuse, etc. add up. When trauma runs the mind, people are reactive and not focused. Encourage everyone on your team to begin focusing on their breath to unwind. Do this for two minutes.

Note that these action items don’t require a full legal review; they require just that: action.

As I coach clients through fear, I get them talking about mental health in the workplace to change an outdated stigma that prohibits an inclusive work environment. If you’re not talking about mental health today in your leadership meetings, why not? And for how much longer do you plan to avoid your most important metric of success?

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Workplace harassment liability may extend to companies other than victim’s employer: Howard Levitt

December 17th, 2018 Respect in the Workplace

Supervisor wins discrimination case against employee of co-contracted firm

All responsible employers know that they have increasing obligations to their employees. Chief among these — poignantly publicized by the #MeToo movement’s roiling of Canadian workplaces — is the obligation to maintain a working environment free from violence, harassment and discrimination.

Human rights tribunals have come to loom large in employment, where discrimination claims are endemic. But it may come as a surprise to employers and employees alike to learn that, in some cases, liability for workplace discrimination extends beyond employers and employees and to potentially almost everyone employees must deal with.

Employees themselves may be liable for their own discriminatory conduct. In British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v. Schrenk, the Supreme Court of Canada recently held that this may be so even where the victim works for a different employer and is in a senior position to the perpetrator.

Mohammadrez Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul, a Muslim Iranian immigrant, worked as a supervising engineer for a firm hired by the B.C. municipality of Delta. Edward Schrenk worked for Clemas, a construction company, also hired by Delta for the same project. Due to the structure of this project, Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul had “significant influence over how Clemas and Schrenk performed their work.”

Despite his junior role, Schrenk targeted Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul with a sustained barrage of homophobic and anti-Muslim comments and conduct. Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul raised this with both his employer and Clemas, which eventually dismissed Schrenk.

Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul still filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against Schrenk and Clemas, who both argued that the tribunal could not hear the claim because they were not in any employment relationship with the complainant, who worked for an unrelated engineering firm.

The tribunal decided that it could hear the claim and, although the B.C. Court of Appeal disagreed, a majority of the Supreme Court agreed with the tribunal. The court found that the relevant section of the code — “A person must not … discriminate against a person regarding employment” — was broad enough to catch any discrimination, more widely defined.

The court ruled that it would be “superficial” to say that only an employer and/or superior could perpetrate workplace discrimination. Colleagues could also be a source of discrimination, and a broad view of human rights legislation demanded that victims be able to bring a claim against a discriminatory co-worker. This is especially so because employees are in a vulnerable position when it comes to discrimination, unable to simply walk away from an abusive colleague. Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul’s complaint against Schrenk and Clemas was therefore allowed to proceed before the tribunal.

What does this mean for Canadian employees and employers? It depends on which province you work in.

Some provinces, such as Alberta, use explicit language in their human rights law to limit employment-based discrimination to acts committed by employers or those in a similar position of power over the employee-victim.

But these provinces are in the minority.

As this Supreme Court case arose in B.C., it obviously reflects the law in that province. Human rights law in Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia all use broad language similar to that found in B.C., so this is certainly good law in those provinces as well.

In both Ontario and Saskatchewan, human rights law explicitly prohibits discrimination in employment by “another employee.” But it is not yet clear whether this extends to another employee with a different employer, as was the case in Sheikhzadeh-Mashgoul’s situation.

Courts have long given human rights legislation a broad and generous reading so that it accomplishes its lofty purposes of identifying and eliminating discrimination

However, the courts have long given human rights legislation a broad and generous reading so that it accomplishes its lofty purposes of identifying and eliminating discrimination. Accordingly, the scope of the law in these two provinces may be expanded by the Supreme Court’s ruling, though that will not be certain until cases on the point are decided.

What is clear is that, in these provinces, employers and employees must be especially vigilant towards workplace misconduct. Employees and employers should act proactively when they become aware of discrimination in the workplace, as failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences, financially and reputationally. Employees will not be insulated from the consequences of their discriminatory conduct, nor will they be able to simply pass liability onto an employer that has stood idly by while discrimination occurred.

And employers may not be able to escape liability because their employee targeted somebody with a different employer. The Supreme Court has made clear that, depending on the arrangement of the work, the lack of a formal employment relationship will be no defence to a claim of discrimination in employment.

• Howard Levitt is senior partner of Levitt LLP, employment and labour lawyers. He practises employment law in eight provinces. The most recent of his six books is War Stories from the Workplace: Columns by Howard Levitt.


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