Canada’s unions launch initiative to shine a light on harassment and violence at work

October 21, 2020

With the pandemic as the backdrop, researchers and unions are launching a national survey that aims to gauge the severity and measure the response to violence and harassment in Canada’s workplaces.

“The issue of violence and harassment at work has taken on new urgency during COVID-19,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “Workers facing violence and harassment at work may be feeling more isolated and more fearful of repercussions for speaking out, given the state of the job market. The rise in the numbers of people working from home also means that violence is inescapable for those living with their abusers.”

The CLC will be working in partnership with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) and a researcher at the University of Toronto to collect and analyze information on sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.

The new survey aims to help identify the challenges workers face and explore possible solutions.

“The federal government has acknowledged that violence and harassment are serious occupational health and safety hazards. With the results of this survey, we will be able to talk to policy-makers and employers about what works and what needs to change,” said Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC.

Over half of Canadian women surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute in 2018 reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment during their lifetime and 89% of women reported having taken steps to avoid unwanted sexual advances at work.

The new national survey will look at the experience of both unionized and non-unionized workers in an attempt to uncover why employees choose to report or not report, and whether there is a difference between their experiences. All workers, of any gender, are encouraged to fill it out, whether or not they have personally experienced or witnessed violence and harassment at work. The goal for collecting this data is to help employers better protect workers.

The research will identify the types of responses workers receive when they report workplace sexual harassment and violence, and any links between sexual harassment and other forms of violence in the workplace, and how workers who are marginalized may be impacted.

“This survey will help us understand workers’ experiences of violence and harassment in Canada,” said Yussuff. “Until we have that understanding, we have little chance of preventing harassment before it starts. All workers deserve to feel safe in their workplace.”

The survey will run until April 2021. It builds on existing research about workplace violence and harassment, including bullying and physical violence. Responses will be anonymous and will provide a snapshot of a variety of sectors and workplaces rather than examine specific workplaces or bargaining units.

The survey is funded by the Government of Canada’s Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Fund.

To arrange an interview, please contact:
CLC Media Relations

To fill out the survey, click here.

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