Shining the Light on Bill C-65

Canada is in the midst of updating federal laws to more fully address sexual harassment in federally regulated workplaces, and to bring parliamentary and political staff under such protections. Known as Bill C-65, the proposed law is a step forward in dealing with practices that have long been established elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite move the federal government into the 21st century, which is what this period of “reckoning” demands.

As part of its call for action, The Zero Now Campaign has urged federal lawmakers to adopt its recommendation that all federal institutions, including political parties in parliament, be required to annually disclose statistics on the number of sexual misconduct complaints received, the outcome of those complaints and any financial settlement paid.  It is only with this kind of transparency that we can really measure how safe our workplaces are when it comes to protecting women.

Kathleen Finlay, The Zero Now Campagin’s founder, has written to MPs who have shown a special interest in this subject and urged them to adopt wider disclosure practices in the bill.  She sets out the need for this provision more fully in a recent column in The Huffington Post.

This is a rare opportunity for the federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to show transformative leadership in dealing with conduct that causes too much harm in our workplaces because it goes on out of view and behind closed doors. It’s time they were opened. We call this our sunshine law for sexual misconduct.  It is one that should be adopted by governments at every level in Canada and the United States, and should be replicated in all our universities, hospitals and progressive private sector organizations. We will keep you informed of our progress.