Canada enacts global treaty to end workplace violence and harassment

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Canada has officially put into action the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 (C190), a landmark global treaty aimed at eradicating violence and harassment in the workplace.

This significant move comes exactly one year after Canada’s ratification of the convention on January 30, 2023, demonstrating the country’s commitment to fostering safe and respectful work environments.

C190, known as the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, is the first international treaty of its kind, setting a global standard for ending workplace violence and harassment. With its formal enactment in Canada, the government is now obligated to implement comprehensive laws, policies, and collective bargaining agreements designed to prohibit, prevent, and address such issues in the workplace.

The ratification of C190 was spearheaded by Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr., who, alongside Gilbert Houngbo, Director-General of the ILO, formalized Canada’s commitment at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Canada’s leadership in the development and adoption of C190 underscores its role as a key player in international efforts to improve workplace safety and equality.

The convention’s implementation is part of Canada’s broader strategy to eliminate violence and harassment at work, promoting a culture of respect and dignity for all workers. This aligns with Canada’s ongoing advocacy for C190 among its international partners, emphasizing the importance of inclusive workplaces that protect women and vulnerable populations, who are disproportionately affected by workplace violence and harassment.

Domestically, the Canadian government has taken concrete steps to uphold the principles of C190 through the implementation of its workplace violence and harassment framework under the Canada Labour Code and the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, which were introduced in January 2021.

Additionally, the federal Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Fund contributes $3.5 million annually to projects aimed at creating safer working conditions for federally regulated employees.

Minister O’Regan expressed the government’s stance, stating, “No one should face violence or harassment on the job – not in Canada, not anywhere. We joined countries around the world in this Convention to protect workers, and make sure every workplace is safe and respectful. That’s not just a Canadian value. Today, it’s a protected right.”

The enforcement of C190 in Canada marks a pivotal step towards safeguarding workers’ rights and establishing a zero-tolerance policy for violence and harassment in workplaces across the country.

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