Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
If I may be permitted, I will just quickly go over the first bit of what I said. I am really pleased to see the support of all members of Parliament for this bill, despite political affiliations.
This is an issue that is of great interest to me, as a physician. The fact is that people fear reprisal, there is stigma, and there is shame with regard to violence of any kind. I am familiar with physical violence, domestic violence, and societal violence. Sometimes the only person victims feel safe to tell their stories to is their physician, because of patient-physician confidentiality. Quite often physicians cannot do very much about it because people cannot be forced to speak out or to go wherever they need to go, but we can do certain things.
We now have a culture where there is open disclosure. People are less afraid to speak out because of the number of people who are speaking out. There is safety in numbers, and people feel they are not being singled out. They feel it is safer to speak out. However, that is not enough. There is still stigma and shame attached to victims of violence. The mentality to blame the victim still goes on.
We need to take concrete steps to change workplace culture, and Bill C-65 would do that. If we pass the bill in the House and we bring in the policies and the program that would support the bill, we would see a slow but definite change in the culture of at least the House of Commons as well as federally regulated workplaces.
There are three areas we need to look at. As always, protection is the most important. As a physician, I can treat diseases. I can put on bandaids and do whatever I need to do. However, if I do not look at the cause then I am not able to give long-term help or long-term support.
We need to look at the culture. This culture of abuse of authority and of making people afraid in order to do what one wants them to do is not 150 years old. This has gone on for millennia. This culture is so deeply ingrained that it is going to be difficult to remove it, but with goodwill, we can all start to do it.
The first thing we need to do is examine ourselves. What do we do? How do we think? How do we behave? What are the thoughtless things we do to our own staff when we are angry at them or we feel they are not doing the job well? What are the things that we do, both men and women, whether physically, psychologically, or in fact sexually, that make our colleagues feel ashamed and threatened? These are the things we need to do first.
Before we can do anything, we need to take the physician health thyself approach. We have to look at our behaviour. We have to look at how we pass information on to our children. We have to look at how we bring up our children so they can learn to respect each other and understand the way to behave with each other. We have to start with these fundamental things. It begins in kindergarten.
I have heard people talking about pornography, etc. That culture starts at the beginning of one's life. That culture starts with how we deal with each other from the very beginning, with how we talk with each other at home around the dinner table, with how we shame people and how we denigrate people. These are some of the things that we have to start examining.
We need this legislation. This legislation looks at how we can protect people from workplace violence. Employers would be required to investigate, record, and report incidents. That is the first thing. Labour programs would bring in toll-free lines for employees and employers to link up with experts who can help them through conflict resolution and negotiations, as well as navigate all of the processes.
We need to look at providing educational material, which this legislation would provide. We need guidelines that would provide support services for those who are victims, keeping foremost in mind the safety of the complainant. Complainant safety is really a problem. Fear of reprisal is a big problem, as is losing one's job, being demoted, not getting the wanted promotion, or not getting that big part in a movie one wanted.
Some of these are very real, and people need to feel that they are not going to be blackballed for the rest of their lives because they spoke out. That is going to be very important as we look at the protection component.
The next one is to look at effectiveness and if we have effective ways of dealing with this: how to deal with it effectively immediately; how to deal with a problem when it occurs; and how to support the victims themselves? That is a big part of that effective response.
Even though I stand here as I woman and as a long-time feminist, I want to say that this is not only about gender harassment. Indeed, there are men who are harassed in the workplace, either psychologically or physically. In fact, men are more at risk of physical violence in the workplace. When we look at that, we see 19% of women have a tendency to seek help, fill out a report, and look for support services; yet only 7% of men do that because of the absolute shame that a man has of being in this position. Therefore, I want us to look at the broad ways in which we can deal with this problem for both genders, to look at all of the ways in which we can keep people down. If because of this bill a lot of men are going to seek help, then it will help them to get the help they need.
The third pillar is to support the employees who are affected. This legislation does not replace the Criminal Code. There are going to be times when we need to look at going to enforcement because of the criminality of an act that has occurred in the workplace. This does not replace that, but it will bring into force Part III of PESRA, which is the employer and staff relations act that would bring in health and safety precautions and protections into the workplace.
I caution everyone in this House not to think that we will turn on a dime and that we will make changes. However, by passing this legislation right now, and by the ability of all of us in this place to think that this is extremely important enough to come together and to forget our differences, then we will make it safer for people to feel they can speak out, by protecting them when they speak out. If we do that, it will be one major step in moving this agenda forward. However, we need to have clear guidelines and clear policies. This bill is going to do exactly that, so we are not just talking or just tut-tutting and saying how terrible things are; we are actually putting into place concrete processes, steps, and sanctions that will affect employers and employees in the workplace.