At a time when numerous federal and provincial politicians are resigning their posts in the midst of sexual harassment allegations, Premier Dwight Ball spoke out Friday evening with the provincial government’s stance on harassment and assault.
“Every employee has a right to feel safe and valued in the workplace,” Ball said in an emailed statement. “Our government is not tolerant of behavior that suggests otherwise.”
Ball said existing workplace practices are under review, with “strengthened and modernized policies” expected to come into effect this spring.
Meanwhile, he pointed to the several policies already in place that are meant to protect employees, such as the Harassment and Discrimination Free Workplace Policy, Respectful Workplace Policy and Program, Whistleblower Legislation, and an MHA code of conduct.
Alluding to the increase in discussions about harassment, with the ongoing Me Too and Time’s Up movements, Ball said both harassment and assault are serious issues and he welcomes these discussions.
Ball added that he is “fully supportive of creating an environment where women, and anyone who has been harmed, can come forward and have their voices heard.”
Across Canada, several politicians have resigned in recent weeks.
Former minister of Veterans Affairs, Kent Hehr, resigned from cabinet on Jan. 25 amid allegations of sexual harassment. Former Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader Patrick Brown resigned Jan. 24 after two women accused him of sexual misconduct during the time he was a federal MP. Former Nova Scotia PC party leader Jamie Baillie resigned Jan. 24 after an independent investigation concluded he engaged in behaviour that violated the legislature’s workplace harassment policy.
In an apparent effort to prevent similar situations playing out in this province, Ball is taking a firm stand against harassment and assault, while making an attempt to open dialogue that is supportive of a safe workplace.
“Silence is never the answer,” Ball stated, adding that he encourages current conversations in order to change the culture to one “where harassment and bullying cannot be tolerated.”