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Bill C-451: The Proposed Federal Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act
January 29, 2004

On September 24, 2003, Bill C-451, the Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act was introduced in the House of Commons and underwent first reading.

If passed into law, the Act would amend the Canada Labour Code to require all federally-regulated employers to make every effort to ensure that their employees are not subjected to psychological harassment in the workplace. Every federally-regulated employee would be granted a statutory right to employment free from psychological harassment, and all federal employers would be required to issue a policy statement to that effect.

The proposed Act defines “psychological harassment” as:

  • any vexatious behaviour in the form of hostile, inappropriate and unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that affects an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful workplace for the employee; or
  • any abuse of authority, including intimidation, threats, blackmail or coercion, that occurs when a person improperly uses the power or authority inherent in the person’s position to endanger an employee’s job, undermine the employee’s job performance, threaten the economic livelihood of the employee or interfere in any other way with the career of the employee.

In addition to the proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code, Bill C-451 contains a detailed framework for the prevention of psychological harassment in the federal public service. For example, the Act would establish a special Commissioner designated to receive complaints of such harassment, and would require every employee in the public service of Canada to disclose to their supervisors behaviour contrary to the Act. The Bill also sets out a complaint procedure, and provides for the imposition of fines for violations of certain provisions of the Act.

Bill C-451 is a Private Member’s Bill, proposed by the Hon. Diane Bourgeois, the Bloc Quebecois member from Terrebonne-Blainville, Quebec. It is not currently law.