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Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, with amendments and observations)

Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, with amendments and observations)

Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, with amendments and observations)

Hon. Jane Cordy moved the adoption of the report.

She said: Honourable senators, there were a number of amendments made at the committee, so I’ll just work through them and if you have any questions, then I’ll ask the presenter of the amendment to deal with it.

First of all, I’d like to thank the Human Rights Committee for the exceptional work we’ve done on this bill. On June 14, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights adopted Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, with amendments and observations.

Bill C-65 amends the Canada Labour Code and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to enhance protection against harassment and violence in workplaces under federal jurisdiction and extends those protections to parliamentary workplaces. The committee’s amendments reflected those suggested by witnesses, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the National Association of Women and the Law.

Amendment number one was to clause 0.1, page 1, replacing line 7.

The committee amended the definition of harassment and violence provided in Bill C-65 under clause 1 by replacing the word “mean” with the word “includes.” The amendment is intended to broaden the definition of harassment and violence and ensure that it captures evolving types of harassment and violence in the workplace, because as we know, a workplace is not a stagnant body; it changes and evolves.

Amendment 2 was to clause 1, page 1, replacing lines 15 to 19.

Clause 1 of Bill C-65 was amended to recognize two additional purposes in relation to the Canada Labour Code. New subsection 122.1(b) of the code would ensure that the Canada Labour Code continues to recognize a right to employment free from harassment, including sexual harassment.

New subsection 122.1(c) of the code aims to reflect an intention to advance gender equality and protect the rights of workers who face intersecting forms of discrimination.

Amendment 3 introduced new clause 2.1, page 2, and added new text after line 6.

The committee amended Bill C-65 to new section 123.1 to the Canada Labour Code intended to address recommendations raised by witnesses that the legislation explicitly guarantee the ability of complainants to seek redress through the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Amendment 4 was to clause 3, page 3, adding new text after line 8.

The committee amended clause 3 of Bill C-65 to add new subsections 125(1)(z.163) to the Canada Labour Code clarifying the duty of employers to ensure that the workplace is free from harassment and violence, in line with the committee’s second amendment, adding new clause 1 to the bill. The amendment to clause 3 also adds new subsection 125(1) (z.164), which remains to address concerns raised by witnesses about the lack of information and training on the part of some individuals who receive complaints.

Amendment 5, clause 5, pages 4 and 5, new text added after line 25 and text replaced in line  11. Clause 5 of Bill C-65 was amended to replace subsection 127.1(4) of the Canada Labour Code to ensure that complainants are provided with reports in relation to their complaint, which is an element of due process.

Clause 5(4) of the bill was amended to allow the minister to refuse to investigate complaints that are an abuse of process, since the existing language, referring to “trivial, frivolous and vexatious” complaints echoes language used to invoke stereotypes and victim blaming.

Amendment 6, clause 11.1, pages 7 and 8, text replaced in line 37, text added following line 5. Clause 11.1 of Bill C-65 was amended to add subsection 139.1(2) to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that the minister’s annual report contains and categorizes statistical information relating to the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Amendment 7, clause 21, pages 13 and 16, new text added on page 35, after line 35, text replaced on page 16 following line 1 and text added following line 10. Clause 21 of the bill was amended to add a new subsection 88(3) to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to clarify that the legislation does not abrogate or derogate from the rights provided for under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

And an additional amendment was made to add subsection 88.7(2) to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to ensure that identical provisions apply in respect of the statistical data about complaints that must be reported in relation to parliamentary employees and employees subject to the Canada Labour Code.