Labour Media release

Press release: Let’s make workplace bullying illegal in Nova Scotia, Wed, Oct 30, 6:30 pm, Central Library


Annette MacDonald Harpell, victim of workplace bullying

Larry Haiven, Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary’s University

-Katherine Lippel, Professor, University of Ottawa Law School (electronically)

Every jurisdiction in Canada either has legislation or has announced pending legislation prohibiting psychological harassment at work. EXCEPT NOVA SCOTIA.

For example:

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act prohibits workplace harassment, which is defined as” a course of vexatious comments or conduct that is known, or ought reasonably to have been known, to be unwelcome.”

The Canada Labour Code protects employees in the federal jurisdiction from “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee.”

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have analogous legislation. And Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI have announced their own versions.

But in Nova Scotia alone it is still open season for workplace bullies.

The International Labour Organization, with Canada’s backing, calls for anti-bullying laws.

On June 21, 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a ground-breaking convention (C. 190) which calls on member states to outlaw “violence and harassment” in the workplace, defined as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm.”

Marie-Clarke Walker, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Worker Spokesperson on the ILO Standard Setting Committee says, “There can be no decent work with violence at work.”

If the federal government is backing the ILO initiative and has its own protections, why is Nova Scotia out of the loop?The Nova Scotia NDP Caucus recently introduced a private member’s bill to change the law.


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