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SHRC combating workplace sexual harassment in workplace with federal funding

WATCH (July 2019): Second settlement reached in RCMP sexual harassment class-action lawsuit.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) says funding from the federal government will help combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

The SHRC said the $1.6 million over five years will be used, in part, to dispel myths and misinformation surrounding sexual harassment.

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“Sexual harassment occurs at a disconcerting rate, affecting all industries and professions in our province,” Norma Gunningham-Kapphahn, the SHRC’s executive director, said Tuesday in a statement.

“The funds from the federal government will be used to develop a province-wide, multi-tiered strategy to address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.”

A coalition of stakeholders will also use the funds to train employees and employers, increase public awareness, and provide counselling to people who have experienced workplace sexual harassment.

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“This is a big issue that cannot be tackled alone,” said Heather Heavin, associate dean, research and graduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

“No one agency, organization, or sector has the ability to address sexual harassment. We all have an important role to play in creating and maintaining safe and respectful workplaces.”

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The SHRC and the U of S, along with the Saskatoon Industry-Education Council, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan, make up the coalition.

“Our mission is to make Saskatchewan the best place to live and work,” said Michele Geres, director of programs at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

“Together, we can combat sexual harassment in the workplace and implement programs and services that best reflect the needs of the Saskatchewan business community.”

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The SHRC said there are many forms of workplace sexual harassment, including sexual remarks, unwanted advances, leering, physical contact and threats.

“We look forward to working with business leaders to raise public awareness, to dispelling myths, to giving employers and employees the tools they need, and to supporting those who have experienced, or are experiencing, sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Gunningham-Kapphahn.

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A 2018 Statistics Canada study said 19 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men reported some form of harassment in the workplace, with women more likely to report sexual harassment.

The Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan will receive separate funding to set up a program that provides free legal advice for people who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

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