Mr. Speaker, when I asked a question regarding harassment in the Canada Post workplace in February, the minister assured me that she was doing everything in her power to address the issue. However, when I attended the CUPW spring educational conference at the end of April, the members were quite vocal about the fact that harassment was still one of the biggest issues plaguing them in the workplace. There appears to be some light on the horizon, albeit if not late in its timing, for those already suffering the effects of bullying and harassment. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers reported on May 9 that some incremental first steps had finally been taken on the part of the minister, who assured them that there would be follow-up. I do hope that is the case.
During committee hearings on Bill C-65, a union representative described a culture of harassment that is deep-seated and systemic. New Democrats are committed to supporting workers in finding a resolution to reduce incidences of bullying and harassment in all workplaces. As the NDP critic for Canada Post, my primary concern is to address this dysfunctional culture within the corporation. We have witnessed a steady deterioration in the working conditions of postmasters and assistants, including reduction of hours, post office closures, and other issues that contribute significantly to the potential for stress and unhealthy conflict in the workplace. CPAA members report mental health issues related to this particular situation and things like absenteeism, which is second only to musculoskeletal issues. While workplace conditions are not always the cause of mental health issues, a culture of bullying and harassment certainly does nothing to alleviate workers' stress levels. It just makes sense to work to create an overall cultural change at Canada that improves working conditions and reduces stress with meaningful and concrete solutions.
To quote the Government of Canada's Department of Employment and Social Development from November 2, 2017, on the release of the report entitled “Harassment and sexual violence in the workplace public consultations—what we heard”:
Harassment and sexual violence are unacceptable. Period. The Government of Canada made a commitment to Canadians to take action to ensure that federal workplaces, including Parliament Hill, are free from these types of behaviours....
Harassment and sexual violence in the workplace negatively impact not only the person experiencing these behaviours, but also their families, coworkers, and their employers.
The release goes on to say that the government is committed to taking meaningful action to address the full spectrum of harassment and sexual violence at work and will be announcing next steps in the near future. I am encouraged to hear that Jessica McDonald, Canada Post's new CEO, has initiated discussions with the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association to discuss bullying and harassment in the workplace. It appears that she is attempting to find the root of the problem, and a solution as well, and that she is open to working with the unions. This gives me cause for hope.
The time for addressing these issues is now. We cannot afford the cost of bullying and harassment in the workplace. We cannot afford it in human terms; nor can we afford it in dollars and cents, because the bottom line is that this kind of disruption of work costs us all. Therefore, I am waiting to hear from the minister.