Feds commit $1.7M to prevent workplace sexual harassment on P.E.I.

The federal Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will give $1.7 million over five years to the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission and Community Legal Information with the goal of putting an end to workplace sexual harassment.

In 2018, Statistics Canada found 19 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men across the country reported they had been harassed in their workplace. Four per cent of women said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace, compared to fewer than one per cent of men.

"All individuals have the right to a safe workplace with fair treatment for all," the department said in a written news release. "Sexual harassment impacts the health and well-being of those involved, as well as their ability to perform their jobs to the best of their ability."

The release said the human rights commission will implement a public awareness campaign for both employers and employees, along with training for employers on how to identify and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. 

"Employers will be encouraged to assume a leadership role in creating and maintaining safe and inclusive workplaces," the release said. 

There will also be new resources in schools aimed at educating young people who are getting their first jobs.

Will include training for lawyers

"The P.E.I. Human Rights Commission is very pleased to receive support from Department of Justice Canada to increase our capacity to address sexual harassment in the workplace," said Brenda Picard, executive director of the commission, in the release. 

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"We look forward to working with local businesses to design programs of prevention and resolution of situations of sexual harassment in the workplace.…  We also look forward to working with members of the education sectors in the province to provide information and training to high school students as they begin their employment journey."

Community Legal Information will use the money to provide a free legal advice program for victims of workplace sexual harassment that provides referrals to trauma-informed lawyers for legal advice, the release said. 

It also plans a public legal education campaign for employers and employees, developed in collaboration with the human rights commission. 

This will include creating public legal education information resources and training for lawyers "to educate them about trauma and the brain, as well as effective ways to support clients dealing with trauma," the release said. 

"We are very pleased to partner with the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission and Justice Canada to bring practical support to those who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace," said Ellen Mullally, executive director of Community Legal Information, in the release. 

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