Sexual harassment in federal workplaces

The House of Commons Committee on the Status of Women has been conducting hearings into the sexual harassment of women in the federal public service.

PSAC and other witnesses provided extensive and detailed recommendations to the Committee.  National President Robyn Benson told the Committee that Treasury Board is not living up to the expected standards of providing a workplace free of harassment and discrimination.

Unfortunately, the Committee report falls short of holding Treasury Board accountable for providing a harassment-free workplace. 

“The recommendations from the majority – all Conservative MPs – lack  the key elements for a systemic and effective answer to the harassment that continues to plague women in federal workplaces,” says Benson. 

On the positive side, the report does recommend the adoption of a policy on sexual harassment, the determination of a common set of timelines for processing complaints and mandatory training for management and supervisors.  It also includes one of PSAC’s recommendations to include questions on sexual harassment in the Public Service Employee Survey.

The big question is whether the government will implement any of the Committee’s recommendations. PSAC will continue to push Treasury Board to take the necessary steps to eradicate harassment and is committed to working to end violence against women.

Both the Official Opposition NDP’s Supplementary Report and the Liberal Party’s Dissenting Report picked up on several important recommendations made by witnesses that were not included in the majority report. They include the need to:

  • examine the impact of job cuts on women’s vulnerability to sexual harassment, increase the number of women in leadership positions and to transform the workplace culture,
  • develop policies that take into account the impact of domestic violence on women at work,
  • conduct a national survey on violence against women, and
  • develop a national action plan on violence against women.