Ms. Diane Bourgeois
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Saint-Jean for this question. Indeed, the issue of psychological harassment is a new, but important concept.
I will draw an analogy, which may seem strange, but we talk about harassment in schools where it is referred to as taxing. We could perhaps talk about workplace harassment, which can take the form of repeated actions or simply something which has been going on for a very long time and which undermines people's health and psychological well-being and causes them to become ill. This is very costly to society.
Moreover, my colleague from Saint-Jean is right. The Government of Quebec is the third in the world to have passed, in December, legislation to address workplace harassment. We can be proud that Quebec passed such legislation.
It is visionary legislation that was not embraced by all employers at first. After six months to put it in place and work the bugs out, now employers are saying, “How right it was to pass this legislation”, because an employer is responsible for the physical and psychological well-being of an employee in the workplace.
Hon. members know that, under the Criminal Code, employees can take their employer to court if, indeed, the employer did not react quickly enough on a harassment issue.
That having been said, there are two countries in the world which have legislation against harassment. France was the first to introduce such legislation, five or six years ago. Timid steps were taken and, in France, they are now changing this legislation somewhat to give it more teeth. Belgium was the second country to introduce legislation, but then again, this legislation being patterned on the French legislation, it is timid.
We hope that a bill can soon be passed in this House to make Canada the first country in the world to have legislation which takes into account whistleblowers, protects them and really addresses the issue so that employees do not experience harassment.
At present, in Canada, there is a policy. But as I demonstrated earlier, it is either not enforced, poorly or sporadically enforced, or enforced any old way. I find that appalling. While employees are being harassed, their employers, the managers, are doing nothing about it. They are not being mean; they just do not know how to recognize harassment. People are starting to talk about it.
I think that, eventually, as an employer, the public service will have to pay attention to the physical environment to ensure that the working climate is healthy and that assistance can be provided to employees.
Subtopic: Public Service Modernization Act