Bill 30 Hoping To Protect Alberta Workers From Bullying

Every workplace has to deal with conflict or differing opinions. It is nearly impossible to avoid when you have multiple people from different backgrounds that join together every day.

It is when these conflicts or differing opinions turn into something more personal or targeted that it turns into a problem. This is when it turns into bullying.

Bullying can have devastating mental and physical health effects that can last for years.

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The Alberta Government is trying to do something about it.

Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans, was introduced

Last year and will come into effect this summer.

There are a number of items on the bill including getting paid even if there is a ‘stop work order’ and the reporting of ‘near-miss’ incidents.

But the one many issues that advocates are keeping an eye on is that workers would be prohibited from engaging in harassing or bullying behaviour.

Michelle Phaneuf is the Alberta co-director for the Canada-wide Workplace Fairness Institute. In an interview with Metro Calgary, she said companies really need to make discussions about ‘respect and safety a normal part of their culture.’

“An important piece a lot of organizations are missing is to be able to facilitate these conversations for their employees in a safe, respectful way where they can explore the issue and talk about it,” Phaneuf said.

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Having a union on your side can help.

When you are part of a union, you can reach out to a Shop Steward or Business Agent you feel comfortable sharing the issue with. They can also help you take care of your mental health, which can be greatly affected by bullying. Teamsters 362 has a full list of resources on our website that you can find here.

If you are not yet a part of a union, calling one and finding out what your rights are is also an action you could take.

Unions are there to stand up for all of your rights as a worker and ensure that you are working in a safe and healthy work environment –  that definitely includes workplace bullying.

LGBTQ2S Youth Need More Support In Alberta

Looking at the past year, there were a lot of gains for the LGBTQ2S community in Canada.

Trudeau issued a national apology for past government persecution of LGBT people. There was a trans rights bills passed federally and in several provinces. Alberta passed a law requiring schools to provide gay-straight alliances (GSA’s) for all students.

But there is still a lot of work to do.

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Recently a group of activists are called on the government to appoint a cabinet minister to represent the LGBTQ community. Something similar has been in the works with Alberta as well, with the call for a civic advisory committee for the city of Edmonton.

One of the first priorities for the LGBTQ2S community in Alberta needs to be services and support for youth.

In 2017 the Alberta Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released a huge report on LGBTQ2S youth called Speaking Out.

The report pointed out that despite more acceptance and support for LGBTQ2S youth in Canada, ‘they are also at a higher risk of homelessness, mental illness, violence and suicide.’

According to Egale, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and 33 per cent of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to seven per cent of youth in general. A study also found that between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBT.

So just what can be done to support LGBTQ2S in Alberta?

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The following are the recommendations from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s report:

1. Require training about unique LGBTQ needs for all government employees who work with young people or make decisions that affect them.

2. Create LGBTQ-specific living options for children and youth in care.

3. Review and revise policies and practices around identity, safety, living arrangements, services and supports for LGBTQ children and youth.

4. Establish policies to guide decision-making for employees specific to transgender youth.

5. Ensure young people receive appropriate and inclusive sexual health information.

No young person should ever feel like they don’t matter because of their sexual orientation. All Albertans need to come together to support LGBTQ2S youth.

The #MeToo Movement Needs To Stick Around

The #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm. It was The Canadian Press’s story of the year and the ‘Silence Breakers’ were listed as Time Magazine’s Person of the year.

Social activist Tarana Burke started the movement in 2006 and it gained popularity last year when Alyssa Milano use it as a hashtag.

The hashtag has reached international recognition – #YoTambién, #WoYeShi and #MoiAussi are just a few of the variations.

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But with any movement that challenges social norms, #MeToo has received backlash. Prominent celebrities have called it a ‘witch hunt’ and that many are worried that ‘being friendly’ with a woman will get them into trouble.

That is not what the movement is about.

"The work of #MeToo is about healing," said Burke at a recent talk. "It's about healing as individuals and healing as communities. And it's about interrupting sexual violence wherever it lives."

She pointed out that the movement also has to ‘include men, whose experiences with sexual violence she said are often childhood abuse.’

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It is clear we have needed this movement for a while, and if you don’t believe it, check out these facts.

·      A recent poll found that more than half of women in Canada have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, with the most common issues being physical touching, cat calls, being referred to using derogatory or demeaning sexual terms and being pressured for dates

·       According to the YWCA of Canada out of every 1000 reported sexual assaults 33 are reported to the police, 12 have charges are laid, 6 are prosecuted and only 3 lead to conviction

·      Even though the rate of self-reported sexual assaults has remained relatively stable, the percentage of offenses that were reported to the police dropped from about 12% in 200951 to 5% in 2014

·      Women with disabilities and those who are institutionalized, Aboriginal women, single women, and women who are unemployed or have low-incomes are at heightened risk of sexual assault

·      Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining. Since 1999, rates of sexual assault have remained relatively unchanged






The Gender Wage Gap Is Real

This past year has been one of women making their voices heard. The #MeToo movement has brought attention to sexual harassment and assault, but it has also put a spotlight on the wage gap.

The wage gap is very real for women across Canada and it has been for a long time. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada clearly show that full-time working women earn 26 per cent less than full-time working men.

This is even worse for women of colour and Indigenous women. Racialized women earn 62 cents for every man’s dollar and Indigenous women earn 46 cents.

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This gap can be difficult for some people to get their heads around. Many claim it is a myth, stating that the women they work with make the same as them for the same job or that they don't know any women who have had to deal with issues of pay inequity.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the pay gap that persist despite the force of the #MeToo movement and the statistics that are found year after year on the gap. Here are just a few of them.

Women Choose Lower Paying Jobs

Fields where women outnumber men such as retail, early childhood educators or cashiers, tend to be much lower paying jobs. It has been called ‘Occupational Segregation’, referring to the ‘striking tendency of many industries to be very heavily dominated by one gender or the other.’ It also shows how little value ‘women’s work’ has in society with occupations related to caregiving or teaching paying much less.

Women Choose to Have Babies and Take Time Off

It is true that women take time off to have children and often have the responsibility of caring for children at home, but research has shown that the pay gap exists right from the beginning of women’s careers. The lack of affordable child care in Canada also has a huge impact on the pay gap, causing mothers to stay out of the workforce longer.

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There Has Been Huge Progress

Employers can pay women less, choose not to hire them or not promote them because it is the norm. A study found that women earned more than half of the university degrees and 40 per cent of the MBAs handed out in North America, but only three per cent of Fortune 500 companies are run by female CEOs. Despite many more women attending post secondary and entering fields that are usually dominated by men, there are still very few women in leadership roles. And all of this is changing at a snail’s pace, with Oxfam estimating that it will be 135 years until women and men are paid equally.


Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

In Canada, we have a lot to be proud of.

We are a diverse nation made up of many different cultures and people. We are a country that is safe and has laws that protect us every day. We have the freedom to express ourselves, protest and make our voices heard.

But despite all of this, we have a national shame that has only recently started to get the attention it deserves. The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

According to data from the RCMP, Indigenous women make up 16 per cent of all female homicide victims, and 11 per cent of missing women, even though Indigenous people make up 4.3 per cent of the population of Canada.

Alberta in particular has had a huge issues with MMIWG.

The province has the second highest rate of cases, just under British Columbia. We also have the lowest clearance rate of cases in the country, at just 42 per cent. A clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that have a charge laid by the total number of crimes recorded.

According to the Government of Alberta, there were 206 murdered Aboriginal women between 1980-2012, 28 per cent of all female homicides in the province during that time period. As of November 2013, there are 19 unresolved missing Aboriginal females and 28 unsolved murders.

And our capital has a horrible track record for MMIWG.

Project KARE was created by the RCMP in 2003 to look into a series of seemingly related murders and disappearances in the Edmonton area. According to an investigative article by the Globe and Mail, since the late 1980s, many women had been found murdered in the forests and fields on the city's outskirts and a disproportionate amount of them were Indigenous.

The Globe and Mail found that 63 per cent of the victims were Indigenous, but only about 5.6 per cent of the city's female population is indigenous.

The Government of Canada launched an independent National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in September 2016.

The Inquiry was aimed to ‘look at services that are meant to create healthy, protective and livable communities across Canada’ and at how Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S are affected by such programming.

As Canadians, we can no longer allow this to continue. Actions have been taken and the problems persist, so we need to do more.

To find out how you can help visit the website for the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). 

Celebrating The Opening Of A New Clinic For Transgender Albertans

This month Alberta has taken a huge step in its support of transgender health. As of February, the Gender Health Program at the University of Alberta has opened, the first clinic in the Prairie Provinces.

Transgender youth have a place to go to start their journey.

The goal of the clinic is to ‘to transform health care for transgender Albertans  and aims to reduce wait times and improve access to medical treatments.’

All of these have been huge issues in Alberta, especially for youth.

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Previously a clinic based out of the Alberta Children’s Hospital was the only specialized clinic called the Metta Clinic. It was only open one half day a month, with a waitlist of up to three years.

Dr. Ted Jablonski from Calgary said in an interview with CBC news that young people were suffering because of this and the consequences of waiting could be horrific including substance abuse, mental health challenges and even suicide attempts.

study of Alberta’s transgender youth last year found some troubling statistics:

·      75 percent of youth under 18 felt discriminated against

·      73 per cent said they had self-harmed

·      67 per cent said they had seriously considered suicide

·      41 per cent had made at least one attempt

·      80 per cent said their family didn’t understand them

·      62 per cent don’t access mental health services (92 per cent of those did not want their family to find out)

·      75 per cent felt very uncomfortable discussing trans-specific health care need with doctors

These statistics are shocking and need to make Albertan’s stop and think about how our province treats this population.

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Transgender individuals need to be treated fairly in the workplace as well. Teamsters 362 is committed to making sure all members, including those in the LGBTQ2S community, are treated with respect in the workplace.

Employers must also take steps in the workplace by developing company-wide policies that promote inclusion, educate employees about how to support LGBTQ2S employees that they work with and implement anti-discrimination and harassment policies.

Together we can change these statistics and this new clinic is a huge step.

Canadians Need To Take A Stand Against Islamophobia

Last year on Jan. 29, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire during evening prayers at an Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Six people were killed and 19 were injured.

Canadians were shocked, and the tragedy made headlines around the world.

This year, many called for the government to mark the day in commemoration as National Day Against Islamophobia, to not only remember the victims, but to take a stand against Islamophobia across Canada.

This was a horrific act that directly targeted the muslim community, and we as Canadians cannot let something like this happen again.

As a nation we must ask – do we have a problem with Islamophobia and how can we stop it?

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Aisha Ahmad, is an assistant professor in the University of Toronto's department of political science. She said in an interview with CBC News that statistical data shows that we do have a problem.

"In our society it's become more socially acceptable to target and discriminate against Muslims than any other group," she explained. “There is a disparity between how Canadians feel about non-Muslim immigrant groups and Muslims and it's clear there are far higher negative responses about Muslims."

According to Statistics Canada the number of police-reported anti-Muslim hate crimes jumped by 60 per cent in 2015. Since then it is common to see hate crimes against Muslims reported in the news on almost a weekly basis.

In 2016 The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) launched a toll-free Islamophobia help hotline for Muslims who have faced discrimination. In the wake of the Quebec Mosque shooting last year, they reported calls going up dramatically.

Despite these reports polls have found that the majority of Canadians do have a generally positive impression of Muslims.

Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian and 78 per cent thought they should maintain their religious and cultural practices.

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But a majority of respondents thought that there was ‘an increasing climate of hatred and fear towards Muslims in Canada and that it will get worse.’

Canadians pride themselves on being a country that is diverse and open to all cultures. As incidents of Islamophobia rise, we need to all do our part to show that we will not accept this kind of hate in the workplace or anywhere in society.

Teamsters Local 362 intends on implementing committees of rank and file members to represent the five key equity groups recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress. These committees will help address many forms of discrimination in the workplace and in the community.

Unions have fought hard against all forms of discrimination inside and outside the workplace, including Islamophobia. No matter your race, religion or gender, you should always feel like a part of the community in Canada.