Gawronsky encouraged by government's plan to address sexual harassment, points to remaining gaps

“Sexual harassment has no place in our workplaces; it should never be tolerated. Our union has decades of experience in advocating for our members on these protections, and we welcome this announcement." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (26 Feb. 2018) — In light of recent reports of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour within the Manitoba government, the Premier has announced several measures to ensure employees are able to work in an environment that is respectful and free of harassment, including sexual harassment.

Manitoba government moves to combat sexual harassment 

The announcement included 5 initiatives to ensure all incidents of sexual harassment are addressed and that all employees feel safe in reporting such incidents:

  • Instituting a ‘no wrong door’ approach for political staff to ensure there are additional avenues (other than the direct supervisor or the chief of staff) to report complaints and make sure no one feels reluctant to bring forward complaints for fear of reprisal. 
  • Launching consultations with government employees to gain insight into their experiences, and to hear about the impacts of policies, practices, and other tools that address workplace harassment.
  • Engaging an external expert to review the province’s policies and procedures, and make recommendations.
  • Implementing a public reporting process on statistics related to instances of harassment that occur across government. This reporting mechanism will protect the privacy of complainants, while providing accountability to employees and the public.
  • Establishing mandatory respectful workplace training for all cabinet and political staff.

“Sexual harassment has no place in our workplaces; it should never be tolerated," says Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). “Our union has decades of experience in advocating for our members on these protections, and we welcome this announcement. I believe it will move us in the right direction to ensuring that everyone working for the government can confidentially come forward with a complaint without fear of reprisal.”

MLAs should not be excluded from training

While Gawronsky is encouraged by the government’s announcement, she says the union would like to see mandatory training expanded to include all MLAs, not just cabinet ministers and political staff.

In a letter sent last week, she asked for this very thing, calling on the Premier, the ministers responsible, the Speaker, and the opposition leaders to all work together to address the lack of protections in workplaces where elected officials and political staff deal with MGEU/NUPGE members in the civil service.

“There are numerous instances where MLAs come into contact with civil service employees in the workplace. If all MLAs aren’t involved in respectful workplace training, then I think there will continue to be a remaining gap in addressing this problem. Let’s eliminate the gap now if we know it’s there.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE