On January 30, 2023, Canada deposited the instrument of ratification of the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) with the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
By submitting the instrument of ratification, Canada becomes the 25th country in the world, and the 8th country in the Americas, to ratify Convention No. 190.
Convention No. 190 is a landmark instrument being the first international labour standard to address violence and harassment in the world of work. Together with Recommendation No. 206, it provides a common framework for action and a unique opportunity to shape a future of work based on social justice.
These instruments will be key to achieve the objectives set by the ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work, adopted in 2019, that clearly commits to a world of work free from violence and harassment, and more recently, by the ILO’s Global call to action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
The Convention affirms that everyone has the right to a world of work free from violence and harassment. It also provides for the first internationally agreed definition of violence and harassment in the world of work, including of gender-based violence, understood as “a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices” that “aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm”.
This definition protects everyone in the world of work, including interns or apprentices, and persons who exercise the duties or authority of an employer, and covers the public and private sectors, the formal and informal economies, as well as urban and rural areas.
The Convention also requires ratifying Member States to adopt, in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organisations, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment, through prevention, protection and enforcement measures and remedies, as well as guidance, training and awareness-raising.
The Convention and its accompanying Recommendation are tangible evidence of the enduring value and strength of social dialogue and tripartism, which have shaped them and will be essential in implementing them at national level.
In depositing the official instrument of ratification at the ceremony held at the ILO in Geneva, Mr. Seamus O’Regan, Jr., Canadian Minister of Labour, said: “No one should face violence or harassment on the job – not in Canada, or anywhere else. Ratifying Convention No.190 is not a ceremonial gesture – it is proof of a deep-rooted commitment, exemplified by over three years of collaborative work by the Government of Canada, provinces, territories, labour leadership and industry.
“Canada is joining countries around the world to protect workers, and make sure they have the safe and respectful workplaces they deserve. Canadians can take pride in this milestone. We’re stepping up for workers’ rights both in Canada and around the world.”
Receiving the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 190, the Director-General, Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo, said: “First, I would like to emphasize the active role played by Canada throughout the standard setting process, particularly in supporting the adoption of ILO instruments on violence and harassment and shaping consensus on the issues addressed both in Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206.
“I also wish to highlight the tireless efforts of Canada to tackle the root causes of violence and harassment, including all forms of discrimination, at all levels. It is particularly important in the current global social and economic context to pursue the fight against this pervasive phenomenon. The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed increased specific risks of violence and harassment in the world of work and addressing them is key to promote a human-centred response and recovery that tackles injustice.
“By ratifying Convention No. 190, Canada reaffirms its longstanding commitment to the creation of a world of work free from violence and harassment, based on dignity and respect for all and leaving no one behind. It is time to make that right a reality everywhere thereby promoting and realising social justice for all.”
To date, Canada has ratified 38 Conventions and 1 Protocol (of which 25 are in force).