Mr. Speaker, I am immensely pleased and honoured to rise today, and, since this is the first time I am speaking in 2018, I would like to extend greetings to my hon. colleagues who are now back in the House.
I am very enthusiastic about speaking today in support of Bill C-65.
I am deeply convinced that all Canadians breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that this bill was being introduced. Clearly, sexual harassment and violence in the workplace must end now.
Today, our government is taking the necessary steps to do just that by setting an example. I would also like to point out that all parties support this bill. There is no room for partisanship when it comes to Canadians’ fundamental rights.
In my humble opinion, this is an historic moment for Parliament. Not only will this bill govern these matters for workers under federal jurisdiction, but, more importantly, it will also send a clear message throughout the country that there is no place for such behaviour in Canada. End of story. The time has come to speak strongly and clearly, and to take action. In this respect, Bill C-65 is clearly a big step in the right direction.
The news stories of the past few weeks are a stark reminder that workplaces are still not free from sexual harassment and violence. Social media has given us a clearer idea of the scope of the problem. It is high time that we introduced legislation that will protect federal workers. The bill is intended for workers in banks, communications companies, and the air, rail and marine transportation sectors, as well as federal government employees, of course.
Studies by Abacus Data revealed that more than one in 10 Canadians say that sexual harassment in the workplace is quite common, while 44% of Canadians report it does happen, although infrequently.
Our government pledged to solve the problem, and we are now fulfilling our promise. Bill C-65 allows us to send a clear and strong message as members of Parliament.
It enables us to take a stand and say that this has to stop. Employers must clearly understand their responsibilities and take the necessary measures to eliminate this scourge on society. Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace hinder economic development and affect Canadians who are trying to join the middle class.
Although women are more likely than men to be victimized by such behaviour, visible minorities, low-income individuals, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community are also targeted and remain more vulnerable.
Victims and their families suffer major repercussions, but so do their employers. Victims can experience stress, depression, or anxiety, and employers must manage this situation in their place of business, a situation that leads to absences, sick leave, decreased motivation, and high employee turnover. Our country really has no room for this type of behaviour. Our economy and our international reputation would gain considerably from the enactment of this bill. It is time that we took a stand once and for all.
We all know someone who has been the victim of sexual harassment or violence at work. It could be a sister, a brother, a co-worker, or a friend. It is our responsibility to take the necessary measures to eliminate this problem. Bill C-65 is certainly a key measure. It will bring about a radical change in the way we perceive employer-employee relations. I therefore ask all of my hon. colleagues to support this bill, which will usher in a new era of labour relations in Canada, and even here in Parliament.
By amending the Canada Labour Code and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, we will be joining forces to prevent harassment and violence, respond more effectively to complaints, and provide better support for victims and employers.
In conclusion, not only is this bill a good thing for society, it is indispensable.
Everyone wins with this bill, including victims, families, co-workers, and, of course, employers.
As I mentioned earlier, this bill is a huge step forward for the cause, and we may soon see a truly equitable working environment for all Canadians.
This is a necessary change in culture, and I am proud to be supporting this bill today.