Workplace Health and Safety

Progress towards a world of work free of violence and harassment

August 11, 2022

Bruske: Now we must turn to the hard work of implementing this landmark international agreement to better protect workers

OTTAWA––Canada’s unions welcome today’s announcement by the federal government that they will finally live up to their commitment to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention no. 190 (C-190) on Violence and Harassment.

“We are happy to see Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan’s long-awaited announcement that the federal government and all provinces are now on board with ratification of this vital international agreement to better protect workers from violence and harassment. Work shouldn’t hurt,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canada’s unions have been fighting to ratify this for years. Now we must build on this momentum and swiftly implement this agreement.”

C-190 is a ground-breaking international agreement that acknowledges the universal right to a world of work free from violence and harassment, makes governments accountable for preventing and addressing this violence and harassment, and establishes a clear framework for achieving this.

“We saw frontline health workers subject to harassment and violence as they cared for us. We saw increased domestic violence with more people working at home. We saw growing incidents of violent discrimination,” continued Bruske. “The fact is, women workers are disproportionately hurt by harassment and violence at work, while women, gender-diverse people, and other workers facing harassment and discrimination face additional barriers to reporting incidents. We must do better.”

Bruske pointed to a survey the Canadian Labour Congress released earlier this year that revealed widespread evidence of harassment and violence at work in Canada. Some sectors and jobs expose workers to an even higher risk of violence, including from third parties, as we saw against health workers during the pandemic.

“Too often, workers in Canada today are not protected by existing legislation, leaving them vulnerable and threatening their safety at work. C-190 is a comprehensive and inclusive agreement that, once implemented, will help make all workers safer,” concluded Bruske. “Canada’s unions are ready to get to work with governments and employers on a plan to swiftly implement these new protections. Together, we can build a world of work free of violence and harassment, in all its forms.”

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