The Manitoba government has released two reports looking at sexual harassment, harassment and respectful workplace policies and procedures in the civil service.
“There is no place for harassment of any kind in the civil service or any workplace,” said Premier Brian Pallister. “We are committed to ensuring all employees are treated with dignity and respect. These reports provide a framework that will help Manitoba become a national leader in policies and practices that prevent and address workplace harassment. We’re pleased to share them with the public today.”
The first report focuses on what was heard from employees about their experiences with sexual harassment throughout their careers in the Manitoba government. The second report outlines specific recommendations from an external consultant, MLT Aikins, to improve policies and procedures related to harassment including sexual harassment.
Manitoba government employees were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey and a series of in-person roundtable discussions led by the Status of Women Secretariat and the Civil Service Commission to gather employee perspectives on sexual harassment in the workplace. Over 3,000 employees participated in the consultations. The Manitoba Government Employee Consultations on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What We Heard report presents the findings from these consultations.
“The voices of those who came forward to share their lived experiences and insights on sexual harassment have been heard, and we are taking steps to make major changes to our workplace culture,” said Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires. “We will not shy away from this difficult topic. This report gives us a framework to improve our policies and make our workplaces safer.”
This past spring, MLT Aikins conducted a thorough review of Manitoba’s harassment and respectful workplace policies, practices and procedures to assess their effectiveness, identify gaps and make recommendations for improvements. Its review included sexual harassment and harassment more broadly.
The firm incorporated findings of the employee consultations and engaged additional stakeholders, such as political staff, former employees and unions. They conducted 54 in-person meetings involving 335 participants in 10 Manitoba communities and reviewed 202 written submissions. The final report, Policy Review of Workplace Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policies, Practices and Procedures: Report and Recommendations, outlines 25 recommendations.
“Now that we’ve heard from employees and have a better understanding of the problem, we are better positioned to improve our policies and procedures, and enhance support to all employees,” said Fred Meier, clerk of the executive council. “We thank MLT Aikins for this report, and all past and present employees who came forward and shared their experiences and suggestions. Their contributions will help to foster an environment that is respectful and free from all forms of harassment.”
The premier said implementing the recommendations is a priority and work has already begun.
The two reports are part of a larger initiative to strengthen the Manitoba government’s existing framework of respectful workplace and harassment prevention policies, resources and training, announced in February. Other concrete actions include instituting a ‘no wrong door’ approach for political staff, implementing public reporting on harassment in the workplace and mandating respectful workplace training for cabinet and political staff. With the release of these two reports, all five of these commitments have been implemented.
“There is still more work to be done to improve our workplace culture and ensure employees work in an environment that is respectful and free from all forms of harassment,” said Squires. “We will continue to shine a light on this important topic and we hope that by releasing these reports and continuing our efforts to create safer workplaces, individuals will feel more comfortable coming forward if there are concerns.”
Both reports are available online at manitoba.ca.