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Bill 42 does not sufficiently support victims of harassment, according to unions

Photo: Screenshot Bill 42 aims to combat psychological harassment and sexual violence at work.

Roxane Léouzon

January 31, 2024

  • Quebec

Several trade union centers believe that the bill aimed at combating psychological harassment and sexual violence at work, under study until Thursday in the National Assembly, does not go far enough to facilitate the journey of victims.

“This is a bill that has a slightly more coercive than preventative side. There is a virtual absence of support measures, accompaniment, awareness-raising and assistance for the workplace in this regard,” lamented Luc Vachon, president of the Centrale des syndicatsdemocratiques (CSD), in interview with Le Devoir.

The latter suggests in particular that training be compulsory for employers and those responsible for prevention and support for victims.

In parliamentary committee, the president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), Caroline Senneville, also said she would like a rehabilitation course to be put in place for people who have committed offenses to this effect , in addition to disciplinary measures.

“To ensure that such actions no longer occur, we should not stop at disciplinary measures,” Mr. Vachon also said.

Both the CSD, the CSN, the Quebec Federation of Workers (FTQ) and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) believe that certain provisions of Bill 42 unnecessarily complicate the recognition of injuries professionals.

Section 4 provides that a worker's injury or illness is now automatically considered to have resulted from his work as soon as he has suffered sexual violence “committed by his employer, one of the officers of that last […] or one of the workers whose services are used by this employer for the purposes of the same establishment, unless this violence occurs in a strictly private context”. However, the unions are against the exclusion of the “strictly private context”, difficult to clearly separate from work.

“Violence, even if it takes place in a private place, will still have repercussions in the workplace,” said Maryève Boyer, vice-president representing women in the FTQ executive office. There may be private ties between certain workers. And, at that point, the employer is still recommended to do everything in its power to limit the violence or to help people who are subjected to it. When we evacuate what is private, it does not actually correspond to people's lives. »

Several union representatives fear that this exception will encourage the disclosure of the private lives of victims. The use of “for the purposes of the same establishment” is also considered problematic, since situations of harassment can arise between people who do not necessarily work within the same establishment, particularly on construction sites.

Delays criticized

The bill extends the time limit for filing a claim with the CNESST from six months to two years. Most union centers, however, want the limitation periods, both for making a complaint or a claim and for having access to reparation measures resulting from the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, to be completely lifted.

In parliamentary committee on Tuesday, three university experts, authors of the report Putting an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. Giving themselves the means to act, expressed similar reservations with regard to these deadlines and with respect to article 4. They also submitted ten modifications to improve the bill.

Furthermore, the unions agree to request that victims of sexual violence and domestic violence obtain, if necessary, ten days of paid absence, instead of the two days currently provided for by the Act respecting labor standards. work.

During public hearings on Tuesday, the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, said he was delighted with the consensus obtained around the objectives of the bill. “As for the means of achieving them, I really want to be inspired by what you are going to offer us, there is always room for improvement,” he assured.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116