Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the question raised by the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
The government has a policy to prevent harassment in the Public Service of Canada. Our goal is to eliminate harassment from the workplace.
The Public Service of Canada has been successful in reducing sexual harassment significantly. The elimination of other forms harassment is a priority. This problem has the government's attention and it is addressing it from various angles.
Harassment situations are often very complex and not easily identified and resolved. The government's intent is not only to help employees who experience harassment, but is also to create conditions that foster a healthy workplace for all. This summer, focus groups for public servants were held across Canada to examine thoroughly the causes of harassment and ways of reducing it.
The government has focused on prevention and early resolution and has taken steps to increase awareness of harassment dynamics. In conjunction with the unions, the Treasury Board Secretariat is currently holding workshops to build awareness throughout the public service. Also, the Treasury Board Secretariat recently released a practical online course on the prevention and resolution of harassment. This online course is accessible and free to all public servants.
The government is aware of the critical role that managers and leaders play in development harassment-free workplaces. The Treasury Board Secretariat is currently exploring ways to better support managers, at all levels, to address problems before they escalate into harassment situations. It intends to better equip managers with people management skills, such as conflict resolution, negotiation and coaching skills.
Eliminating harassment requires the commitment and collaboration of everyone in the workplace. We want employees to feel free to raise issues in their organizations in order to resolve them, without fear of harassment. This is also in line with the professional and democratic values set out in the code.
However, the government knows that employees will be less reluctant to come forward with problems if they are protected from retribution.
A working group to review protection for employees who raise ethical issues in their organizations was recently formed by the government. The working group will examine the existing disclosure regime and propose ways to improve protection of employees who come forward and disclose wrongdoings.
The government is proud of the quality of service that federal employees provide to Canadians. The federal public service is a dynamic organization that is continually renewing itself to maintain high standards of service. We should never take our achievements for granted.
In this broader context, a greater emphasis will be placed on accountability. Officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat are in discussions right now with senior management of federal departments on the basis of our new management accountability framework, which is designed to enhance general management performance, including reduction of harassment in the workplace.
The government's commitment to values and ethics in support of respectful workplaces has been shaping our overall approach. Departments are also reviewing their harassment prevention and resolution processes to improve rigour and credibility. The government is confident that it is making progress and that it will keep improving in the future.