‘This framework will help council members understand situations or behaviour that can be considered as inappropriate and unacceptable’
Manitoba has rolled out a new legislative framework around harassment, sexual harassment and bullying on the municipal level.
The new rules require all municipal councils to pass a Code of Conduct bylaw, and all council members to complete online code of conduct training by May 1, 2021, and within six months of election or re-election.
“We all deserve to work in a place that respects our opinions and our differences, and municipal councils are no different,” said Rochelle Squires, minister of municipal relations. “This framework will help council members understand both the expectations of them as well as situations or behaviour that can be considered as inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Manitoba is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to define standardized procedures for the intake and review of municipal code of conduct complaints in legislation, says the government, “to establish a formal appeals procedure for council code of conduct violations and to require council members to take mandatory online code of conduct training.”
The province is also releasing a suite of supporting tools and resources to help municipal council members recognize offensive or unacceptable conduct and take steps to prevent and address inappropriate conduct on council.
In September, Yukon approved the Violence and Harassment Prevention Regulation to help foster a positive culture in the workplace as well as physical and psychological safety for workers.
In 2019-20, the Manitoba government received 417 allegations of harassment or bullying, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct, which includes offences such as attempted fraud or conflict of interest. Officials conducted 291 investigations and found 288 substantiated allegations.
Of 25 sexual harassment complaints, investigators found 20 to be substantiated. Those resulted in 10 instances of disciplinary action, 10 instances of further training or education, and two instances of mediation.
Overall for Canada, Almost one-fifth (19 per cent) of women and 13 per cent of men reported they suffered some form of harassment, according to a 2019 report from StatCan.