LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Wednesday 9 March 2022 Mercredi 9 mars 2022
Report continued from volume A.
Private Members’ Public Business
Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 visant à mettre fin au harcèlement et aux abus commis par les dirigeants locaux
Mr. Blais moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 10, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to workplace violence and harassment policies in codes of conduct for councillors and members of local boards / Projet de loi 10, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne les politiques en matière de violence et de harcèlement au travail prévues dans les codes de déontologie des conseillers et des membres des conseils locaux.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101, the member has 12 minutes for their presentation.
Mr. Stephen Blais: It’s a great honour to rise tonight to speak to my first private member’s bill, Bill 10, the Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act. I first raised the issue of abuse by local leaders in the Legislature in November 2020. At the time, the city of Ottawa was in the process of addressing the first of the integrity commissioner’s reports into serious allegations of harassment, and they were requesting that the government take action to bring about stronger penalties for elected members.
Sixteen months later, Mr. Speaker, here we are. Il est inimaginable qu’en 2022 nous parlions encore des préjugés et de l’abus contre les femmes dans presque tous les aspects de la vie. And it’s unimaginable that in 2022, women in our society continue to face unbelievable, unconscionable and horrific acts of abuse. This abuse—psychological, emotional and physical—sometimes comes from the hand of strangers, but too often it is inflicted by friends, partners, employers and those in positions of authority around the victim.
Mr. Speaker, I’ve never really had to think about dealing with this kind of bias, harassment or abuse by anyone in my life, let alone someone who has a degree of authority or power over my life and my future success. But as we know, far too often this is not the case. And while the abuse of this authority, no matter what form it takes, is not limited to victimizing women, it is women who are the overwhelming victims of it.
The harassment and abuse of women is a plague, and tragically, as we have witnessed over the last number of years, the halls of power in cities right across this province are not immune to this plague. In fact, in many ways, our institutions of democracy are ill-equipped to deal with it. There are many reasons for this, Mr. Speaker, but one of the most important reasons is the absence of the most serious professional consequences—consequences that any employee in any other organization in Ontario would almost certainly face—and that is termination.
So how did we get here? Well, as I stated, for me this started with the situation in Ottawa. As you know, the integrity commissioner in the city of Ottawa has finished several years-long investigations into shocking and horrific abuse and harassment allegations by women facing this situation in the workplace from a sitting city councillor. This councillor repeatedly abused his authority, demeaning and harassing women who worked for him in ways that are difficult to read about. His actions were so beyond the pale that the city imposed the most severe penalties afforded to it under law: the suspension of pay.
But this individual still sits in his position of power. His pay has resumed. He has continued to accumulate pensionable service. He is eligible to seek re-election, and he might do so this year. Anyone who has read the reports will know that in any other workplace in Ontario, the penalties would be much more severe.
As a colleague of his for many years, it has been difficult for me to comprehend how this could have been happening. I have expressed my regret to the best that I know how to the victims with whom I’ve come to advocate. I’ve shared with all members of the Legislature letters from three of these brave women from Ottawa, and I hope that you’ve had the opportunity to read them and reflect on what they’ve written.
Stephanie Dobbs wrote, “He used manipulation tactics to undermine my sense of self and safety within the office, which led to my mental health deteriorating, physical illness, and thoughts of suicide among other things. I tried to repress and minimize the events of my time there as a coping mechanism and only found the courage to come forward when I heard others speak about the abuse. The threats from the councillor of destroying any future career I might have for speaking out against him were less daunting with the support of other women.”
Nancy O’Brien wrote, “Violence against women is a non-partisan issue. Women deserve a safe work environment. Women deserve to be treated with respect when interacting with our highest offices. There is a responsibility to the public to ensure that the person making the decisions on behalf of our future has the integrity, compassion, and strength to lead our community with humility. Most importantly, that the power bestowed upon elected officials by those who believe in them is not abused.”
Victoria Laaber wrote, “I was forced to accept that I was a victim of abuse. I spiralled, my world was forever changed. Resettling in this new reality, where I had to come to terms with the years of abuse, came with a wave of shame. Shame for realizing what was happening in the moment. Shame for not being able to protect myself. Shame due to knowing that he kept up this behaviour long after I was gone, subsequently creating more victims.
“I was a staffer working for a ‘municipal councillor,’ I was there to do a job and I received consistent harassment which I am still to this day actively working to untangle. Working under Rick has been a net negative on my life. Seeing the lack of response from our governance structures makes me lose faith in our institutions.”
Shockingly, Mr. Speaker, the situation in Ottawa is not an outlier. It is but one of several similarly serious allegations that have come to light in Ontario just in the last three or four years. There are serious allegations of sexual violence by a city councillor in Brampton. There was and is a serious situation involving a councillor in Barrie. And there are reports that a Mississauga city councillor has been tormented, harassed and threatened by one of their own colleagues.
The women who have faced this harassment and emotional trauma have taken the most difficult and courageous step: They have come forward and reported the abuse. They’ve shared their story so that the light can be shone on this dark corner and actions can be taken to stop it from happening again.
And now, Mr. Speaker, it’s time for the Legislature to act just as courageously. We must ensure that municipal leaders can truly be held accountable for their actions. In any other workplace, a person who harassed and abused employees, co-workers or clients in this way would lose their job, they would lose their title and they would lose their position of authority—but not municipal leaders in Ontario, and that needs to change.
Les femmes qui ont été victimes de ce harcèlement et de ce traumatisme émotionnel ont pris la mesure la plus difficile et la plus courageuse que soit : elles se sont manifestées et ont signalé les abus. Elles ont partagé leur histoire afin que la lumière soit faite sur ce coin sombre et que des mesures soient prises pour empêcher que cela ne se reproduise. Maintenant, il est temps pour l’Assemblée législative d’agir tout aussi courageusement.
Bill 10 would create a process to help stop elected officials from abusing the trust and authority placed in them and, if necessary, remove them from office for violating that trust. The need for stronger consequences, including removal from office, is endorsed by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. It is endorsed by Ontario’s Big City Mayors. Mr. Speaker, it’s time for it to be endorsed by the Legislature.
The government has said that it takes this issue seriously, and I seriously hope so, because this is not and should not be a partisan issue. But there is no time to waste, Mr. Speaker. We can all agree that this type of harassment and abuse of power is unacceptable and it must stop.
Donc, je demande à tous les membres de l’Assemblée législative d’appuyer le projet de loi 10, et d’aller plus loin : s’engager à accélérer l’étude du projet de loi en comité afin qu’il puisse recevoir la sanction royale avant la fin de la session. Il est temps que le gouvernement donne l’exemple, prenne les mesures et fasse savoir que les représentants élus ne seront pas traités différemment de tous les autres employés dans tous les autres lieux de travail.
I’m asking for the Legislature to support Bill 10, but not only that: to ensure its speedy adoption and addressing at committee so that it can return to this Legislature and be passed before the end of the session and the upcoming election. It’s time that the government set an example and take action. Let it be known that elected officials won’t be treated any differently than any other employee in any other workplace.
Mr. Speaker, I stand in solidarity with the brave women from Ottawa and all those across Ontario who have faced harassment, abuse and trauma from those around them. I hope that this government will step up for them, because they deserve nothing short of this government’s full support.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry
Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m pleased to rise in the House to thank MPP Stephen Blais for tabling Bill 10, Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, and bringing this important matter to the forefront for discussion in this Legislature.
Our government has been clear and will not tolerate workplace harassment or discrimination of any kind. In fact, we take it so seriously that Minister Clark has also taken the unprecedented step of calling for the resignation of a sitting municipal councillor. We believe that everyone should feel safe and respected in a municipal workplace. Every voice is so important.
As we have always said, our government will not tolerate harassment and discrimination of any kind by members of council and certain boards who abuse the power and influence their communities have entrusted in them. It is simply unacceptable.
That is why it is crucial that we work with our municipal partners to ensure that members of council carry out their duties as elected officials in an ethical and responsible manner. In fact, last year, our government launched a broad-reaching 90-day consultation to seek feedback on how to further strengthen the accountability framework for members of municipal council and certain local boards. We asked Ontarians for their thoughts on mechanisms we could put in place to better hold council members accountable for municipal code of conduct violations and what we could do to better enforce these codes. We wanted to find out whether or not a broader range of penalties for violating codes was required.
With the support of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, we launched the consultation and heard directly from municipal partners, municipal employees, members of council and the public. AMO provided recommendations related to important aspects of prevention and penalties, including additional financial penalties for a breach of the code of conduct, in order to incentivize compliance, as well as suspension of a council member in a defined circumstance that could negatively impact public safety and health.
AMO recommended allowing municipal integrity commissioners to apply to the courts to have a council member removed from office in the most serious of circumstances and also suggested improvements to training and standards for integrity commissioners, who play a key role in supporting local accountability and transparency.
We were pleased to have AMO’s support and receive their advice during this consultation process. And I’m glad that our government’s consultation gave the public and municipal sectors the opportunity to comment on AMO’s recommendations.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues Minister Jill Dunlop and Associate Minister Jane McKenna for meeting with various municipalities, associations and other groups during the consultation. They both contributed tremendously to this consultation process. Between them, they held 18 virtual round table discussions to gather valuable feedback from members of council, municipal staff and municipal associations.
We heard from various municipal associations across the province. This included the eastern and western wardens’ caucuses, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities. We also heard from the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, Ontario’s Big City Mayors and Ontario’s small urban mayors. The input we received from our municipal partners was invaluable and is essential for raising the standard for safer, more respectful work environments.
In addition to these virtual round tables, our online public consultation received more than 2,650 submissions from across Ontario. This was helpful in learning from Ontarians with lived experiences. During the consultation, we heard that the existing range of penalties for violating municipal codes of conduct were not strong enough to deter serious violations or repeated misconduct.
Our government has listened, and we have been taking the time needed to consider all of the feedback received. We look forward to sharing our next steps in the near future. We will continue to work with our municipal partners to help ensure they have the tools they need to build strong and efficient local governments.
Mr. Speaker, these proposed changes to strengthen the accountability framework for members of council are just one way that we are working with municipalities to ensure that they have the tools they need to function effectively. Last spring, Ontario implemented changes to make the municipal electoral process more efficient for local staff, potential candidates and third-party advertisers. We amended the Municipal Elections Act to allow clerks, candidates and third-party advertisers to submit their nomination and registration forms electronically, to reduce red tape and to increase efficiencies.
Registered third-party advertisers can now also choose to end their advertising campaigns before voting day. The changes also provide that if a third-party advertiser files a nomination to run for office, their advertising campaign would automatically end. These changes apply to municipal by-elections initiated during the current term and all future municipal elections.
Our government also responded to a long-standing request from municipalities and municipal stakeholders to make changes to eliminate duplication by combining the provincial and municipal voters lists into a single list managed by Elections Ontario. This change is significant. For the last several municipal elections, municipalities and voters had voiced concerns about the accuracy of the voter information that municipalities use to conduct their elections. Our changes will help make voting easier for Ontarians by reducing duplication and improving the accuracy of the municipal voters list, hopefully resulting in fewer corrections at polling stations, shorter lines on election
Beginning January 1, 2024, the Chief Electoral Officer and Elections Ontario will be responsible for establishing and maintaining a single list of provincial and municipal electors. Mr. Speaker, we are cutting red tape, helping municipalities save money, and making voting day easier for candidates, voters and municipal clerks so that Ontario’s 444 local governments can serve their communities more effectively and efficiently.
But there’s more. We’ve also been working in partnership with municipalities to identify ways to improve local service delivery, while better respecting taxpayers’ dollars. We are helping our municipal partners find better ways to operate by making funding available to all 444 municipalities across Ontario, to help them lower costs and improve services for residents over the long term. Ontario has allocated up to $350 million through 2022-23 to help municipalities identify and implement modern solutions.
Through the Municipal Modernization Program and Audit and Accountability Fund, we are ensuring that all 444 municipalities have access to funding that will help them find more efficient ways to operate and deliver critical local services. This is especially important as they work to adapt to new ways of doing business as a result of COVID-19. Municipalities can use the funding to conduct service delivery reviews that will help them find efficiencies or implement a range of projects to deliver better, more modern services, including online approvals for development proposals or setting up new shared services with neighbouring municipalities.
We also know that Ontario has a housing crisis, and everyone has a role to play in increasing supply and making it easier for people to find housing that meets their needs and their budgets. That is why we created a new Streamline Development Approval Fund to help Ontario’s 39 largest municipalities address the housing crisis by modernizing local approvals processes for residential developments. More than $45 million is available under this new program to help large municipalities streamline, digitize and modernize their approach to managing and approving applications for residential developments.
Through these three programs, we are helping municipalities across the province strengthen local service delivery; making life more convenient and affordable for families, businesses and communities; and unlocking housing supply by making their planning and approvals processes more efficient. Our government is proud to support initiatives that modernize municipal processes and better respect our taxpayers’ dollars.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, Ontarians want the province to support modern, efficient and accountable local governments that they can trust. I believe that stronger consequences should be put in place to deter misconduct and violations of that trust. We have been clear: Our government will not tolerate workplace harassment or discrimination of any kind. Everyone is entitled to a workplace free of harassment, discrimination and intimidation. A new day is coming. We will send a strong message to members of council and certain local boards who abuse the power and influence their communities have entrusted them with, and we will show Ontarians that all members of this Legislature have a shared interest to continue to build more accountable local governments in Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Joel Harden: It’s a real pleasure to rise today and speak to this legislation. I want to thank my friend from Orléans for proposing it. I want to thank the member from Glengarry-Stormont-Dundas—you’re my neighbour and I messed up your riding name, my friend. Sorry about that.
Speaker, this is an issue, as I’m sure all of my colleagues from Ottawa can attest, that has seized our community. It seized our community because we have felt powerless. We felt powerless to see someone with absolutely no shame deny allegations—independently investigated twice, involving 36 women, detailing some of the most sadistic, cruel acts that one can imagine and that I won’t rehearse because it will reduce the dignity of this House.
But suffice it to say that Councillor Rick Chiarelli has set a new low in politics, and it seized our community. Our community has cried out for justice. Councillor Chiarelli has had his pay suspended to the maximum allowable. Councillor Chiarelli lost his judicial appeal and was reminded by a court that his behaviour was unconscionable and must change. He has not once apologized to those he harmed—not once.
But I want to suggest to this House, in the course of this debate, that the issue of gender-based violence and harassment in political offices runs much deeper than the municipal level, although I am glad we are taking action on this today.
I want to point to a study done by the folks at the Samara Centre for Democracy in 2018. The study was called The Elephant on the Hill. Some 266 staff members in the House of Commons were surveyed; 122 identified as women. The survey found that 29% of people surveyed reported incidents of sexual harassment. Speaker, that is seven times the average in the country. When Statistics Canada did the same survey for the general population, the working-age population, 18 to 64, 4% of women reported sexual harassment at work. Twenty-nine per cent of people working for our country in political offices in the House of Commons reported sexual harassment four years ago.
So what I want to say in the time I have this afternoon, Speaker, is that I am very happy that it looks promising that we will see action and consequences for people who abuse their power in political office at the municipal level—fantastic. But what I would like to see in the course of this Parliament or in the Parliament afterwards—and if the good people of Ottawa Centre do me the favour of returning me here, I will definitely devote everything I can towards it—is similar action at the provincial level and similar action from my colleagues at the federal level. It is unconscionable that we would put people—people who have given their lives, as we have, to public service—in a situation where there would be no supports, and in fact disincentives to reporting.
I want to talk about some of that, because what happens when you evidence the bravery that the member from Orléans mentioned? The three women who are the reason we are talking about this at all—Nancy O’Brien, Stephanie Dobbs and Victoria Laaber—what burden did they take on, not only for themselves, but for all of us who care about the safety of political staff? It’s considerable, Speaker. As they waited anonymously at the point when they filed their report with the integrity commissioner of Ottawa, as they waited for that deliberation to take place, they were living the harms that Councillor Chiarelli inflicted upon them. They paid for legal costs. They paid for counselling costs. I want to suggest that in subsequent legislation, the province of Ontario, municipal governments and the federal government have to step into the breach to make sure that survivors are supported in their journey to healing with proactive measures.
I can tell you one thing right now, Speaker. Nancy, Stephanie and Victoria, if you’re watching, I will hope, by your example, that every single municipal employee in the province of Ontario realizes something: that when this legislation passes, yes, there will be consequences; yes, there will be an opportunity to hold people accountable for acts of misconduct in the office.
But you have an opportunity right now as a municipal employee to do something, to do something right now, this month, or in June, with any provincial government that comes after this one, and that is to form a union in your workplace. When you form a union in your workplace, you are given the opportunity to have immediate access to a grievance policy, immediate access to human rights provisions. That is something I am very proud to have in the office I proudly serve: an immediate process to hold me accountable for everything I do, for everything I say.
I want to see the day, Speaker, where every municipality across Ontario proactively encourages unionization. It’s not a magic bullet, because we have unions on Parliament Hill. The very survey that I just cited has unionized workplaces with the New Democratic Party and, I believe, our colleagues in the Bloc Québécois. Perhaps even the Greens are unionized, as well. It’s not a silver bullet, but it gives you an option. So that’s something you can do right now, and if you want our support, if you need help and you want to organize a union in your workplace municipally, give me a call. I’ll give you a few numbers, and then you and your colleagues can get to work.
But I want to end, Speaker, by noting again the courage of Nancy, Stephanie and Victoria, for the reasons that we’re here. I also want to end on the words of the great councillor Catherine McKenney, councillor for Somerset ward back home, who said this on Twitter this afternoon, and it should give us all pause for thought: “Did you know that a councillor can be removed from office for questioning a parking ticket but remains in office as a serial sexual harasser?” That should give us all pause for thought, pause to support the member’s legislation. I thank him for bringing it forward. I can’t wait for this to become law.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Ottawa–Vanier.
Mme Lucille Collard: This is such an important issue. Mr. Speaker, harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. When the harassment comes from a person in power, it’s unacceptable and scary. When the harassment comes from a public representative, it’s unacceptable, scary and unforgivable. That’s why we need to speak out on behalf of all the victims and ensure this can’t be happening any longer.
City Councillor Rick Chiarelli should have lost his job a long time ago, and this is why I am so grateful to the member for Orléans for tabling this bill. The fact that someone with that much power can be less accountable than ordinary employees is baffling. Harassment is even more traumatic when it comes from someone who is supposed to be a community leader. This bill is a common-sense reform that is badly needed.
As a woman who has been employed in many different jobs throughout my career, I am no stranger to harassment and discrimination. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this is an understatement. I stand tonight in solidarity with Stephanie, Nancy and Victoria, who were the very unfortunate victims of someone they may have trusted—at some point, anyway.
People like Rick Chiarelli who do not behave according to the values that they were elected for do not deserve to represent Ontarians. The direction taken by our society over the last few years has clearly demonstrated that we as a society no longer accept or tolerate abusive behaviour. For these behaviours to be sanctioned, there need to be rules that make it clear that reporting and complaints will be taken seriously.
Il est important que les politiques en matière de violence ou de harcèlement au travail soient sans équivoque sur ce qui n’est pas tolérable. Il est temps qu’enfin les victimes aient confiance de pouvoir être entendues et que les auteurs de ces comportements dégueulasses soient sanctionnés en conséquence.
This is why I am so pleased that my colleague from Orléans is pushing for councillors who are abusive to finally face proportionate consequences.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member for Waterloo.
Ms. Catherine Fife: What an important issue that has come forward through private members’ bills. I want to thank the member for bringing it forward. We of course are very supportive of this.
It’s interesting that prior to the member bringing this bill forward and tabling the bill, the government quietly announced consultations with the municipal sector to strengthen accountability for council members. Also, Minister Clark said that the government is open to changing the law.
Then the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, MPP Dunlop, said that she will lead the consultations, but she also said that she didn’t want to start out with any preconceived notions or ideas. That’s a little surprising, I think, from the associate minister. It’s perplexing, considering it shouldn’t be a partisan issue in 2022. We want to ensure an effective accountability mechanism is in place to ensure that the staff of city councillors are safe from harassment. This would definitely never be partisan. It implies that there isn’t adequate evidence for why we need this legislation, as if the stories of the former staff of Councillor Chiarelli and the findings of Ottawa’s integrity commissioner aren’t evidence enough.
I just want to get the integrity commissioner’s evidence on the books. The Ottawa integrity commissioner’s report found that Rick Chiarelli committed “incomprehensible incidents of harassment” against staff—and these are direct quotes. “I conclude that” Chiarelli’s “conduct is a shocking and astounding failure to treat the complainants with the respect they were due and required of him by the code of conduct.”
It goes on to say that three job applicants for his office said that they were asked about going braless to events and hitting on men in bars to sign them up as volunteers, and were shown photos on Chiarelli’s cellphone of women in revealing clothing. Councillor Chiarelli, among other things, talked about the staff’s bodies, suggested that they not wear bras to events, pressed them to tell him intimate details of their lives—this is horrendous. This should never happen in any Legislature, in any council chamber, in any school board in the province of Ontario or across this country.
The women who came forward showed such courage and bravery, because there still is risk when you speak up against those who have power over you, and Mr. Chiarelli obviously was very determined to use that power to his own advantage.
Systems must protect the vulnerable. This legislation is needed. I urge the government to act with expediency, and I cede the rest of my time to my colleague from Nickel Belt.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Ottawa South.
Mr. John Fraser: I’m pleased to speak to the Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act that my colleague from Orléans has brought forward. I want to thank him and congratulate him for bringing it forward. It’s a bill that applies all the way across Ontario, but of course it emanated from Ottawa and the situation with Councillor Rick Chiarelli, which is, as my colleague from Waterloo just said, astounding. It’s unbelievable, and the bravery of the five women coming forward to speak up and bring this to light—I think it’s important that we pass this bill to protect women and men across Ontario, but in particular tonight to honour those five women, who were very brave in coming forward. It’s not easy in politics, where power is something that we trade in, when you have a serial abuser like Councillor Chiarelli. So I encourage everyone to vote for this bill, and I’ll leave some time for my colleagues.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: Ça me fait plaisir d’ajouter quelques détails. C’est un projet de loi que les néo-démocrates vont appuyer. C’est un projet de loi qui est ici grâce au courage de Stephanie Dobbs, de Victoria Laaber et de Nancy O’Brien.
Ce qui s’est passé avec le conseil municipal et M. Rick Chiarelli n’aurait jamais dû se passer, mais on sait tous que ça arrive. On sait tous que ça arrive à, en général, 4 % des femmes en Ontario, au Canada.
On a la chance aujourd’hui, avec le projet de loi, d’obliger les conseillers municipaux à rendre des comptes. S’ils font de l’abus au travail, de la violence au travail envers les femmes, on aura maintenant une loi qui va nous permettre de leur faire perdre leur emploi. Dans n’importe quelle autre sphère de notre province, si quelqu’un avait fait les horreurs dont je n’ose pas vraiment parler, les horreurs qu’il a fait vivre à ces femmes-là pendant des années de temps, cette personne aurait dû perdre son emploi automatiquement. Mais parce qu’il est un conseiller municipal, il n’y avait aucune façon de le retirer de là. Peu importe les recommandations qui étaient faites, il continuait de travailler. Le projet de loi va nous permettre de changer ça.
Par contre, vous savez, monsieur le Président, que j’ai également proposé un projet de loi qui s’appelle « protéger les travailleurs qui dénoncent la violence au travail et le harcèlement au travail », le projet de loi numéro 68, qui est ici en ce moment. On sait très bien que souvent c’est celle qui dénonce la violence qui se fait punir. Je peux vous dire que dans le système de santé, lorsqu’une infirmière se plaint qu’un médecin lui a fait des avances, a fait des choses, c’est toujours la même chose : on ne la fait plus travailler du lundi au vendredi pendant le jour; elle a les shifts de nuit, les shifts de fin de semaine, puis les shifts de jours fériés. Donc êtes-vous surpris que ces femmes-là ne se plaignent pas? Non, parce que ce sont elles qui vivent avec les conséquences. Tout ça doit changer.
Aujourd’hui, on a l’opportunité de faire un petit pas dans la bonne direction qui va aider à remettre un peu de valeur dans le système municipal d’Ottawa, qui en a bien besoin.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I recognize the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell.
Mlle Amanda Simard: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have much time, and I wasn’t planning on speaking, but this is such an important conversation. I want to thank my colleague the member for Orléans for bringing this forward.
I was myself a political staffer on Parliament Hill for eight years, and I’ve seen way too many things that I would like to unsee. I didn’t say anything at the time, because it was so constant. I just thought it was normal, right? When you’re in your twenties, you’re young, you don’t want to offend anyone and you’re scared about your future. And so I can relate to the fear of speaking about it. These are very courageous women, and I think it’s very important that we recognize it and we do something about it. I do think this is an important first step at the local level. We need to make these people accountable.
I think it’s a power thing: They get into public office and they think they have all the power in the world and they’re untouchable. So I think it’s really important that we stand together with these women—and it can happen to men, as well; I think that’s important to acknowledge.
I will support my colleague’s bill and I do hope that we will do more. This is really, really important, and we’ll keep fighting and we’ll ensure that it never happens again.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): I return to the member for Orléans for his two-minute reply.
Mr. Stephen Blais: Thank you to everyone who is here tonight, specifically the member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry; the member from Ottawa Centre; the members from Nickel Belt and Waterloo; the members from Ottawa South, GPR and Vanier; and, of course, my colleague from Scarborough–Guildwood for being here tonight.
I do want to thank the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the former minister of women and children’s services for the consultation that they did undertake last year. I had an opportunity to speak to them on a couple of occasions, and I do think that they did take the conversation and the consultation on this issue very, very seriously.
I hope, though, that in the absence of a bill from the government, the government will support this bill. I know that this is smaller than they were consulting on, it’s more confined than they were consulting on, and there are many more things around municipal integrity that need to be addressed, as the member from SDG referenced. There are issues at the provincial and federal levels that need to be addressed, and of course, Mr. Speaker, there are issues in society more broadly that need to be addressed.
But I think we can all agree that if someone harasses their staff over the period of a number of years; if someone assaults one of their colleagues; if someone harasses, abuses and torments a client or a constituent, that person does not deserve to hold a position of elected office in our province. The consequence for that behaviour in any other workplace across Ontario would be to lose your job, and that same consequence should apply to mayors, city councillors and all other municipal officials across this province.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
Mr. Blais has moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to workplace violence and harassment policies in codes of conduct for councillors and members of local boards. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Second reading agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Pursuant to standing order 101(h), the bill is referred to the Committee of the Whole House. I look to the member to see if the member wishes to refer the bill to a standing committee.
Mr. Stephen Blais: The Standing Committee on Social Policy.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bill Walker): Is the majority in favour of this bill being referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy? Agreed? The bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
All matters relating to private members’ public business have been completed. This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The House adjourned at 1808.