February 22, 2018 12:33 pm
Updated: February 23, 2018 6:02 pm

5-step plan unveiled to address harassment in Manitoba work places

WATCH: The province announced five concrete steps Thursday, including a “no wrong door” policy and mandatory “respectful workplace” training for cabinet for political staff. Global's Timm Bruch reports.

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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has announced new initiatives aimed at addressing workplace harassment in government positions.

RELATED: #Me Too? Manitoba employees have a right to harassment-free workplaces

The new initiatives, which aim to make the province’s workplaces safer, will help political staff who report harassment by giving them more options when it comes to speaking out.

“To correct the course going forward, we need to hear and learn from the experiences of the past,” Pallister said.

The plan will revolve around five concrete steps, including a “no wrong door” policy, which will encourage anyone who feels uncomfortable to come forward with any complaints, and a mandatory “respectful workplace” training push for any cabinet or political staffer.

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The initiatives come just two weeks after up to four former government staffers accused Stan Struthers of inappropriately touching and tickling them in various incidents since 2010.

The women said they spoke up against the former NDP MLA and nothing was done.

READ MORE: ‘Culture of concealment… is not the way to go’: Manitoba premier on sexual harassment scandal

One of the women, Shannon VanRaes, told Global News on Thursday she was happy with the plan put forward.

“This is a real step for me personally towards closure to know that by my speaking out and by the other women that came forward, there will be tangible change,” VanRaes said.

“To even have this discussion and to be talking about it in the halls of power is really important.”

At the announcement, the premier criticized the handling of the issues when they were first reported years ago, blaming the ‘culture of a concealment’ of the NDP government.

READ MORE: More women speak out about former NDP minister Stan Struthers

“We must do our upmost to change the culture that lead to the complaints in the first place,” Pallister said. “There is no place for politics when it comes to the issue of workplace safety.”

“There’s been a culture where there was at least a perception that people in senior positions were untouchable.”

The Premier was joined Thursday by Finance Minister Cameron Friesen, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women and Fred Meier, clerk of the executive council. Each one took a turn stating the policy goal of creating a ‘culture that is diverse, inclusive and respectful’.

The new Workplace Harassment policy steps are as follows:

  1. Instituting a ‘no wrong door’ approach for political staff
  2. Launching government employee consulations
  3. Engagement of an external expert to review policies and processes
  4. Implementing public reporting on harassment in the workplace
  5. Mandating respectful workplace training for cabinet and political staff

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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