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Sexual Harassment is Thriving in Canadian Workplaces and Post Secondary Institutions



Statistics Canada has released a report entitled Workers’ experiences of inappropriate sexualized behaviours, sexual assault and gender‑based discrimination in the Canadian provinces, 2020 in August 2021. The study confirms that both male and female workers continue to experience sexual harassment at work at unacceptable levels. In fact there has been little to no improvement for women or men since 2017, particularly those who work in the health, sales and services sectors.


An interesting statistic from this study is that one in three women polled (32%) who works in a service or sales environment reported experiencing inappropriate sexualized behaviours in the past year and over half (52%) of these women were harassed by a client or customer. People who experience sexual harassment continue to be reticent to report their experience to a supervisor or someone in authority because they are embarrassed, fear that this will have an adverse effect on their careers and/or that they won’t be believed.


According to another recent Statistics Canada Report entitled Harassment and discrimination among faculty and researchers in Canada's post-secondary institution's sexual harassment is also rampant at colleges and universities across Canada. In this sector, it appears to be colleagues and peers who are most likely to harass the female faculty and students who appear to be most likely to sexually harass male faculty and PhD Student researchers. It is interesting to note that a far greater proportion of women who were subjected to sexual harassment reported it to authorities in this setting (9 out of 10) provided that the perpetrator was not someone in a position of authority over them. This suggests that education may play an important role in preventing and addressing sexual harassment.


Employers in Ontario are responsible to ensure the safety of their employees and doing whatever is in their power to prevent and address sexual harassment. This includes a situation where a customer or client is the harasser. If you are a manager, board member or small business owner and would like to know more about your responsibilities in this regard, The Legal Clinic is offering free training for boards and managers, both virtually and in person. We also offer workshops for employees and high school students about how to address sexual harassment if they witness it or experience it in their workplace. For more information about these workshops, please contact Anne-Marie Langan at 613-264-7153 or by email at langana@lao.on.ca. You can also visit our website for more information at www.tlcshiwproject.com.


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