Training Ministry of Labour Inspectors

MinLThis week SASC Ottawa had the privilege of training inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labour on the connections of workplace sexual harassment and anti-oppression frameworks of practice.

The team of inspectors were an engaged group! Ontario’s Sexual Violence and Harassment Legislation becomes law September 8, 2016 (Read more at The

Below you’ll find an excerpt from the Occupational Health & Safety Act in reference to workplace and sexual harassment.



(1)  The definition of “workplace harassment” in subsection 1 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is repealed and the following substituted:

“workplace harassment” means,

(a)  engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

(b)  workplace sexual harassment; (“harcèlement au travail”)

(2)  Subsection 1 (1) of the Act is amended by adding the following definition:

“workplace sexual harassment” means,

(a)  engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

(b)  making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome; (“harcèlement sexuel au travail”)

(3)  Section 1 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsection:

Workplace harassment

(4)  A reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment. 

2.  (1)  Subsection 32.0.6 (1) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Program, harassment

(1)  An employer shall, in consultation with the committee or a health and safety representative, if any, develop and maintain a written program to implement the policy with respect to workplace harassment required under clause 32.0.1 (1) (b).

(2)  Clauses 32.0.6 (2) (b) and (c) of the Act are repealed and the following substituted:

(b)  include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser;

(c)  set out how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;

(d)  set out how information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating or taking corrective action with respect to the incident or complaint, or is otherwise required by law;

(e)  set out how a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if he or she is a worker of the employer, will be informed of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation; and

(f)  include any prescribed elements.





The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women are organizations that have worked for decades on the front lines with women who experience violence in Ottawa. We work towards the eradication of violence against women and gender-based violence with an anti-racist and anti-oppressive inclusive framework. We want to emphasize the connections between state violence and interpersonal violence – connections that need to be discussed in light of the unjust death of Abdirahman Abdi. We urgently call for attention to his death.  It highlights that law enforcement responses are problematic towards communities of colour, and people with mental health or ability challenges. We need to do this in combination with calling attention to inadequate criminal justice system responses towards survivors of sexual violence.   These two types of violence can not be separated.

We know that survivors of sexual violence often encounter insurmountable barriers in seeking accountability in the criminal justice system. It has been well documented that less than 10% of survivors of sexual violence will report their experience to police, and that only fraction of these result in a conviction. [1] As front-line advocates, we often hear from survivors that their voices and opinions are not taken into account when reporting experiences of sexual violence. That they become a third party witness to the violence they were subjected to.  We want to acknowledge the flaws within the criminal justice system and police practices that fail survivors and members of the community. That is why we are critical of the police responses that resulted in Abdirahman Abdi’s death.

Historically, sexual violence has been used to defend racist actions—we have witnessed the vilification of indigenous, black and other communities of colour as more likely to be perpetrators of violence than their white counterparts. The recent report by the Ontario Ombudsman, released in June 2016, also points to the all too frequent deadly response that people with mental health and mental ability issues face when confronted by police. As a result, there is often a hesitancy within communities of colour to rely on policing and the criminal justice system for safety and accountability in situations of violence against women and gender-based violence. At the same time that these communities are over-policed, they are also more vulnerable to experiencing gender-based violence. Transwomen of colour, women with disabilities, indigenous women and women of colour are at a higher risk of violence.  The struggle to end gender-based violence and violence against women is not in opposition to the struggle to end racism and police brutality. Indeed, combatting racist violence is essential to building safer societies for all of us and to adequately supporting survivors. As anti-violence organizations, and members of the broader Ottawa community it is our responsibility to centre and prioritize the needs of these vulnerable communities.

Better supports and responses were needed for those who called the police to Bridgehead and for Abdirahman Abdi.  There needs to be resources and services separate from the police that people can turn to and that will not result in the escalation of violence. Survivors shouldn’t have to worry that reporting sexual violence will result in more violence. Racialized communities and people dealing with mental health issues shouldn’t have to worry that their interactions with police will result in death.

We strongly support the recommendations that have been put forth by organizations here today calling for accountability and stand in solidarity with all those affect by violence. As anti-violence advocates, we are calling for police responses and accountability frameworks to address sexual violence within a broader context of anti-black racism and systemic violence experienced within our communities. This also needs take into account the experience of those with mental health or ability challenges. We want a criminal justice system that recognizes and validates the experiences of survivors of sexual violence without perpetuating violence.

At SASC Ottawa we offer peer support counselling to survivors of sexual violence, if you are looking for support you can contact our office at 613-725-2160 ext 227 or call our support line 613-234-2266.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us,


In Solidarity,



Yamikani Msosa                                                    Erin Leigh

Sexual Assault Support Centre Ottawa         Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women




SASC in the Media: Anti-Black Racism in Ottawa

Today, our public education and media coordinator gave a speech regarding racism, oppression and lack of accountability by the police. The press conference was held in solidarity with the Coalition for Justice for Abdirahman and had many panelists speaking of their efforts and recommendations to end racism and oppression in Ottawa, to ensure that innocent lives like Mr. Abdi are not taken too soon. The live stream of the press conference can be found on the Justice for Abdirahman Facebook page.

Read about Abdi’s fatal encounter with Ottawa Police on


August 3, 2016

The newly formed coalition Justice for Abdirahman will be holding a press conference on Thursday, August 4, 2016 to provide a consolidated list of recommendations for all three levels of government, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ottawa Police Services Board, and responsible police oversight agencies, in light of the tragic death of Abdirahman Abdi. The coalition will be joined by community allies.

Justice for Abdirahman is an Ottawa-based coalition representing Somali community members and Somali organizations in Ottawa, and is supported by local and national advocacy groups. The objective of the coalition’s campaign is to obtain greater transparency, challenge racial inequity, and bring positive change in order to secure justice for Abdirahman.
WHERE:Ottawa City Hall, Councillor’s Lounge (2nd floor)
WHEN : Thursday, August 4, 2016
TIME:1 p.m. EST
WHY: To present key recommendations to all levels of government to address systemic gaps in how law enforcement agencies respond to vulnerable communities.

Survivor Speak Event – July 21st 2016


Survivor Speak was held on July 21st from 6-9pm at Kind Space. The event was an evening of healing and creating a space for survivors of sexual violence to share their experiences/stories, build community and crafting. Yamikani Msosa, Public Education Coordinator explained to Rogers TV details of the event!

Surivors speak  II