April 5, 2018 4:34 pm
Updated: April 5, 2018 4:38 pm

No heels necessary? Bill would prevent workplaces from requiring unsafe shoes

A private members bill that would ban workplaces from mandating employees must wear heels passed its second reading in the Manitoba Legislature Thursday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tim Ireland
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Female servers forced to wear heels at work in Manitoba may be one step closer to comfort.

NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine put forward a private members bill at the legislature yesterday.

It would amend the Workplace Health and Safety Act so employers couldn’t require female employees to wear heels as part of their dress code.

READ MORE: Ontario bill seeks to ban mandatory high heels as part of uniforms

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Fontaine said if passed, the legislation would impact all industries – including hospitality, which is notorious for making women wear fancy footwear.

“It’s important to recognize that when employers mandate women, their employees, to wear heels as part of their uniform, and as part of the criteria for them to execute their responsibilities, it is discrimination toward women in the workplace,” Fontaine said.

“Certainly, I would suggest to you that an inch to three inch heels is not conducive to a safe workplace for women,” she continued. “I would suggest that it is discriminatory in the sense that we don’t ask men doing the same exact duties and the same exact job to wear heels themselves.”

She said forcing women to wear heels “intrinsically sexualises” female employees.

“In 2018, we can do better for women.”

Rochelle Squires, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, said she’s also in favour of making the workplace safer – but she’d like more research before the initiative goes further.

READ MORE: Mandatory high heels banned in all B.C. workplaces: Regulation changed

Fontaine’s bill passed its second reading this morning, and will head to committee next.

“There are many unanswered questions in terms of who would decide what unsafe footwear is and the parameters of the legislation, what industries would be impacted — it’s predominantly a hospitality industry initiative,” Minister Squires said. “So I’m interested in talking to people in the hospitality industry and the restaurant association and getting feedback from them, and also talking to workers who are impacted in the workplace.”

“I am certainly in favour of any initiative to advance equality for women in the workplace, and if this bill would help advance equality for women in the workplace and help women have workplaces that are free of harassment and are free to pursue their careers at liberty, then we would be in favour of it.”

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

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