The Manitoba Government has taken steps to ensure a safe working environment for all government employees.
Premier Brian Pallister says these steps are to ensure all incidents of sexual harassment are taken seriously and are addressed.
Pallister says all employees deserve to feel protected from any sort of harassment.
“The woman who comes here every morning and cleans the railings on the stairs is as important as (Sustainable Development Minister) Rochelle (Squires) to me on this,”
“Everybody deserves to be safe in the workplace – everyone – it doesn’t matter who you are.” the Premier emotionally said.
Measures include mandating respectful workplace training for all cabinet and political staff, and implementing what’s called a “no wrong door approach”.
It will give staff additional options to report through other avenues, independent from politics, including the clerk of the executive council or Civil Service Commission.
In the past staff could only bring complaints to their supervisor or the chief of staff.
The government says this new approach will prevent political staff from “feeling reluctant to bring forward complaints for fear of reprisal.”
Consultations with government workers will be led by the Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat and the Civil Service Commission.
These talks will allow employees to share their experiences and how policies and other protocols that address workplace sexual harassment have made an impact.
An outside expert will be brought in to review the Manitoba government’s policies and procedures and make recommendations. The review will be shared with public-sector employers to “ensure consistency in approach”.
The last measure is the implementation of a public report “on statistics related to instances of harassment that occur across government.” The purpose is to “protect the privacy of complainants while providing accountability to employees and the public”.
The report will include the number and type of allegation raised by employees, the number of respondents to allegations, investigations conducted, substantiated and unsubstantiated allegations as well as information related to the outcomes of investigations, including disciplinary measures.
“The culture that allowed this behaviour to go unreported and unpunished is not acceptable,” said Pallister in a news release. “Our public service and our political staff are the engines that drive government. We need the best and the brightest working here. To get them, we need to offer an environment that makes them want to work here. Today we are taking concrete steps to enshrine that environment.”