OHS Canada Magazine

Ottawa ratifies ILO’s global treaty on workplace violence, harassment

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January 27, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Federal Government ILO workplace violence

Ottawa has ratified an international treaty focused on ending violence and harassment in the workplace.

Employment and Social Development Canada said the federal government has signed on to C-190, the International Labour Organization’s Violence and Harassment Convention.

It called it the “first ever global treaty” dealing with harassment and violence at work. Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. is holding a press conference on Monday, Jan. 30, to discuss the ratification.

It’s not clear when C-190 will come into force in Canada.

What’s in ILO’s C-190?

Among other things, the treaty contains the following text:

  • Recognizing the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment
  • Recognizing that violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation or abuse, and that violence and harassment is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work
  • Recognizing the importance of a work culture based on mutual respect and dignity of the human being to prevent violence and harassment
  • Recalling that Members have an important responsibility to promote a general environment of zero tolerance to violence and harassment in order to facilitate the prevention of such behaviours and practices, and that all actors in the world of work must refrain from, prevent and address violence and harassment
  • Acknowledging that violence and harassment in the world of work affects a person’s psychological, physical and sexual health, dignity, and family and social environment
  • Recognizing that violence and harassment also affects the quality of public and private services, and may prevent persons, particularly women, from accessing, and remaining and advancing in the labour market
  • Noting that violence and harassment is incompatible with the promotion of sustainable enterprises and impacts negatively on the organization of work, workplace relations, worker engagement, enterprise reputation, and productivity
  • Acknowledging that gender-based violence and harassment disproportionately affects women and girls, and recognizing that an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach, which tackles underlying causes and risk factors, including gender stereotypes, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and unequal gender-based power relations, is essential to ending violence and harassment in the world of work
  • Noting that domestic violence can affect employment, productivity and health and safety, and that governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and labour market institutions can help, as part of other measures, to recognize, respond to and address the impacts of domestic violence.

Other countries signing on

Not counting Canada, 24 countries have ratified C-190. It is already in force in 11 nations:

  • Albania (in force May 6, 2023)
  • Antigua and Barbuda (in force May 9, 2023)
  • Argentina (in force)
  • Bahamas (in force Nov. 30, 2023)
  • Barbados (in force Sept. 1, 2023)
  • Central African Republic (in force June 9, 2023)
  • Ecuador (in force)
  • El Salvador (in force June 7, 2023)
  • Fiji (in force)
  • Greece (in force)
  • Ireland (in force Jan. 12, 2024)
  • Italy (in force)
  • Mauritius (in force)
  • Mexico (in force July 2, 2023)
  • Namibia (in force)
  • Nigeria (in force Nov. 8, 2023)
  • Panama (in force Nov. 1, 2023)
  • Peru (in force June 8, 2023)
  • San Marino (in force)
  • Somalia (in force)
  • South Africa (in force)
  • Spain (in force May 25, 2023)
  • United Kingdom (in force March 7, 2023)
  • Uruguay (in force)


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