Let’s face it – employment legislation can be intimidating, and many find it difficult to interpret and understand what is required of them. Amendments to the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations in the Canada
Labour Code came into effect on January 1, 2020 leaving many people asking if the changes apply to them and, if so, what they need to do to be compliant. Read on for guidance on which harassment and protection legislation applies to you (provincial or federal) as well as a summary of the new requirements contained in Bill C-65.

First off, what is Bill C-65?

Bill C-65 is federal legislation that expands the existing Prevention of Violence framework in the Canada Labour Code. The amendments to the legislation strengthen provisions in the Labour Code by putting in place one comprehensive approach that takes all forms of harassment and violence into consideration. This comprehensive approach aims to help organizations be in a better position to prevent, respond to and assist employees impacted
by harassment and violence in the workplace.

Does Bill C-65 Apply to Me?

Bill C-65 is in Part II of The Canada Labour Code which applies to all federally regulated private and public sectors. Approximately 8% of all Canadian workers are employed by federally regulated companies.

Examples of federally regulated private sector companies include those involved in the following industries:

  • Transportation such as rail, road, air, marine and pipelines
  • Banking
  • Grain
  • Uranium
  • Telecommunications
  • First Nations Band Councils

Examples of federally regulated public sector companies include those in the following industries:

  • Those that provide federal public services (such as Canada Post)
  • Federal crown corporations
  • Parliament

I am not federally regulated; does that mean I am off the hook?

Section II of the Canada Labour Code, and therefore the amendments contained in Bill C-65, only apply to federally regulated organizations. However, each province has provincial safety and employment laws and regulations related to harassment and violence in the workplace that apply to employers operating within that province. For example, in Alberta the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act, Alberta Employment Standards Code and the Alberta Human Rights Act apply.

For companies who are not federally regulated, but have branches in more than one province, each branch is governed by the legislation for the province in which it is located, and care will have to be taken to ensure any province specific requirements are met.

I am federally regulated; what are the highlights?

Essentially, employers’ obligations with respect to preventing and addressing harassment and violence in the workplace will increase. In a nutshell, the high-level requirements under this new legislation include:

  • Ensuring everyone in your organization understands the definition of workplace harassment and violence. This includes developing and implementing harassment and violence training and ensuring that everyone in the workplace, including you, participates in the training.
  • Developing a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy that includes a reporting and investigation process and ensures that issues are resolved in a timely and transparent manner.
  • Identifying risk factors that contribute to harassment and violence in the workplace and developing and implementing preventative measures to mitigate these risks.

The Regulations require employers to develop the workplace harassment and violence prevention policy jointly with their policy committee, their workplace committee or their health and safety representative.

How can I ensure I am compliant with the Bill C-65 amendments?

The Government of Canada has provided guidelines in plain language as well as examples of how companies can meet their obligations under this legislation. These resources can be found here.

The amendments to Bill C-65 are in alignment with those made to the Alberta OHS legislation in 2018. At the time, ACTivate HR posted an 8-part blog series on how to ensure compliance with that legislation. The content of those blogs is also applicable to federally regulated organizations now required to adhere to Bill C-65 and the first in the series can be found here.

ACTivate HR has extensive experience assisting organizations with developing and implementing harassment and violence policies and training, as well as investigating incidents that occur. Whether you are federally or provincially regulated, contact us for information on how we can assist you understand, and ensure compliance with, employment legislation.