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Feds announce $3.7M for Ontario legal clinics to address workplace sexual harassment

According to a Stats Canada report, 19% of women and 13 % of men have experienced harassment in the workplace.

The federal government is providing more than $3.7 million for legal clinics in Ontario to address workplace sexual harassment.

In Cobourg, Ont., on Tuesday morning, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti announced $3.747 million in funding for The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland, which will be the hub for a project involving 19 other legal clinics in eastern, northern and southwestern Ontario.

READ MORE: Bystander training to combat sexual harassment, violence becoming more common in workplaces

The goal for the 20 clinics is to develop and deliver legal information and advice to individuals and enhance public legal education on sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Everyone should have the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment,” Lametti stated.

“It is essential that we increase support for victims of workplace sexual harassment and access to justice across Ontario and across Canada. I am proud that our government’s support will empower these 20 legal clinics to make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals who experience sexual harassment in their workplace.”

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The project aims to improve access to justice while educating workplace sexual harassment victims about their legal rights.

“Today’s funding helps make clear that sexual harassment in the workplace will never be tolerated, ensures that this is a top priority, as it should be, that victims know they have recourse, now and in the future,” said Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd.

“I want to commend both the Legal Centre and the Help Centre for the important work they do every day on behalf of their clients.”

Lametti said the announcement is part of last year’s budget of $50 million over five years to address sexual harassment. The project will begin this fall with eight legal clinics in eastern Ontario and expand with 12 more.

READ MORE: What to do if you’re touched inappropriately at work

Lois Cromarty, executive director of The Help and Legal Centre of Northumberland, says the project seeks to ensure a safe environment for all workers.

“Community legal clinics are uniquely situated to be able to carry out this vital work,” she said.

“First, they have expertise in developing and delivering public legal education and information and in giving legal advice. And second, community legal clinics are locally based, and as such, they can tailor their materials and delivery towards workers, workplaces and the types of employment that are found in their own community.”

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Last year, a Statistics Canada study found 19 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men reported they had experienced harassment in their workplace.

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