Ontario's much awaited Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act officially became a law on September 8th this year. The act amended numerous laws related to sexual harassment and sexual & domestic violence. Bill 132 was primarily designed to ensure better safety for women as sexual harassment and violence is estimated to affect one out of three women in Canada. The bill is also important for employers as it has modified features of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to make sure that harassment programs are updated and implemented accordingly.
One of the main provisions of the bill is to ensure that harassment is recognized and dealt with at the source before it turns into something uglier. It provides more safety for victims of workplace harassment and violence and its language is much clearer than previous bills when it comes to unwanted solicitations and advances. Employers are required to have a written policy and update their workplace safety rules on at least an annual basis, failing which there might be severe consequences.
The bill will hopefully go a long way in protecting women at the workplace and time will tell us if even more stringent laws are required.
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