The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) believes that Bill C-65 is certainly a move in the right direction when it comes to reducing sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. We will continue to work with federally regulated employers and the government to ensure that workplaces are harassment-free, and that complaints are addressed promptly and fairly.
But we also believe that this legislation has a number of flaws that need to be addressed. Most notably, is the fact that survivors of harassment and sexual violence will have to take their complaints to their supervisor, even in cases where their supervisor is the alleged perpetrator. That means they will no longer be able to take their complaints to their workplace health and safety committee.
The impact of this change will be to take existing rights away from victims of harassment and violence at work. The government claims that they are doing this to protect the privacy of victims, but workplace health and safety committees are already held to the highest standard of privacy and confidentiality for all matters brought to their attention.
Our concern is that this legislation forces victims to confront their harasser without any support. That is a step in the wrong direction. If there is anything we have learned about sexual harassment and sexual violence it is that victims need to feel safe and supported when they decide to raise their concerns and complaints. This legislation removes one level of that possible support and in our view may lead to fewer people coming forward than before.
While UCTE strongly supports all initiatives to reduce sexual harassment and sexual violence at the workplace, including Bill C-65, we call on the federal government to amend this legislation to allow for health and safety committees to continue to be a venue to report and support victims of these actions.