Manitoba awareness campaign aims to stop sexual harassment of civil servants
By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government is undertaking a governmentwide awareness campaign to ensure employees aren’t facing sexual harassment at work.
The campaign includes six posters that explain to employees and supervisors what sexual harassment is and how to report it.
The posters include messages discouraging people from making jokes or sending emails about sex or gender.
Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, says the government has also revised its respectful workplace policy by adding clearer definitions of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour.
She says the policy also clarifies how reports of harassment are handled so employees know their concerns will be taken seriously.
The Progressive Conservatives announced their commitment to foster a respectful workplace after female staff came forward in 2018 with allegations that a former NDP cabinet minister tickled and groped them.
The women alleged that their complaints about Stan Struthers, who left politics in 2016, were never addressed.
Backbencher Cliff Graydon was also kicked out of the Tory caucus last year after allegations he asked two female staff to sit on his lap and suggested another lick food off his face. Another woman alleged the member of the legislature groped her at a party function.
“It’s sad that it has to be said, but harassment has no place in the workplace and every employee has the right to a workplace that is free of harassment,” Squires said on Tuesday.
The minister explained the latest updates to the respectful workplace policy provide clearer procedures for reporting and addressing harassment concerns. It also clarifies potential remedies and how those solutions will be monitored.
Squires said each allegation will be investigated and responded to individually.
A report released last August said hundreds of civil servants had experienced sexual harassment while working but most did not report it.
The most frequent harassment included leering or invading space, but many others reported inappropriate physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching.
After the Struthers allegations surfaced, the government implemented a “no wrong door” approach to reporting harassment, and has made it mandatory for managers to forward any complaints to the province’s civil service commission.
Squires said it is important people are aware of what actions and behaviours constitute harassment.
“What might have been dismissed as a colourful or off-putting joke a decade ago … is sexual harassment,” she said.
The minister added she has been working with the house Speaker on a similar policy for the legislative assembly. She could not say when it might be implemented.