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Survey finds widespread violence and harassment in workplaces

The survey findings also underscore the need for Canada to ratify and implement the ILO Convention on violence and harassment in the world of work (No. 190).

Ottawa (13 April 2022) — The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), in partnership with Western University’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, and researchers at the University of Toronto, has released the initial findings of the first national survey on workplace violence and harassment.

Survey sought to address data gap

Workers, their unions, and advocates have long known, and worked to draw attention to, the issue of violence and harassment at work. However, because there was not enough Canada-specific data, it was difficult to know the full extent of it.

In 2020, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and its research partners launched the first National Survey on Harassment and Violence at Work, as NUPGE previously reported. The initial report of the findings is now available online

Results confirm prevalence of violence and harassment 

The report finds that 7 in 10 workers have experienced some form of violence and harassment at work. Almost half of workers have experienced sexual harassment and violence in the last 2 years.

We know that violence and harassment have numerous, far-reaching effects on victims and survivors. According to the survey, 70% of workers who experienced violence and harassment had to miss work due to the negative effects.

Disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities

The survey also confirmed that not all workers experience violence and harassment to the same extent or in the same way. Women, transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse workers are experiencing higher rates of violence and harassment. The same is true for workers with a disability. 

Indigenous workers reported significantly high rates of harassment and violence (79%) and sexual harassment and violence (47.8%).

The need for better workplace protections, processes

The survey found that third parties, such as customers, clients, patients, and co-workers were the most commonly reported perpetrators. This reinforces the many first-hand accounts of increased violence and harassment faced by front-line workers during the pandemic.

The survey results also show that few workers are reporting incidents of violence and harassment, and those who do are often not satisfied with the outcome. 

There is a lot of work to do to strengthen workplace protections, as well as preventative measures, to ensure that all workers realize the right to a workplace free from violence and harassment. 

Ratify ILO Convention 

The survey findings also underscore the need for Canada to ratify and implement the ILO Convention on violence and harassment in the world of work (No. 190). The Natonal Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been calling on the federal government to do so since 2019.

Convention No. 190 provides a roadmap for governments on how to ensure workers have a work environment free from violence and harassment. This includes measures for preventing violence and harassment in the world of work, and for protecting those who are affected.

More information: 

Read the CLC release here.
Read the full report here.