Sexual harassment policy among updates needed to P.E.I.'s Employment Standards Act, group says

The P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income is calling on the provincial government to begin a full review of the Employment Standards Act.

P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income cites opportunities for act to better reflect modern workforce

The Working Group for a Livable Income held a news conference Tuesday to call on the provincial government to start a comprehensive review of the Employment Standards Act. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income is calling on the provincial government to begin a full review of the Employment Standards Act.

The modern workforce had changed since the last comprehensive review of the act about a decade ago, the group said at a news conference Tuesday.

The working group is made up of more thAn 10 Island organizations.

The Employment Standards Act protects workers' rights and sets the minimum standards for employees and employers.

There have been updates to the legislation over the years, but the group said the government needs to take a closer look at the legislation to fix and add policies that will protect all the diverse needs of Islanders. 

The group would like for more regulation of recruitment agencies for migrant workers and better protection of agricultural workers rights. (CBC News)

The group highlighted sexual harassment policy and job protection for those taking parental leave as key opportunities to update the act.

They'd like to see the creation of paid leave for victims of domestic violence — similar to legislation established in Manitoba. 

They all called for more regulation of recruitment agencies for migrant workers and better protection of agricultural workers rights.  

'So many opportunities'

Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, said the act needs to do a better job of supporting parents.

"At the moment, there are so many opportunities to make positive changes and there is also so many things that have changed that need to be responded to and issues that real emerging issues or gaps in the Employment Standards Act.

"It is a great opportunity to look at the whole thing and see where we can make it better to respond to contemporary workers needs."  

The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities says that Islanders living with a disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population. (CBC News)

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disablities, wants the act to become more inclusive.

"Make work spaces friendly to the issues of people with disabilities," she said. "Like flexible work hours, like appropriate ergonomic stations, like information in plain language, like real work and real pay."

"Those are the overreaching things that we would like to see."

Government open to consultation

In an email statement to CBC, Workforce Minister Sonny Gallant said government will "consider a comprehensive review of the Employment Standards Act, which would involve consultation with the interested groups and the wider public."

About the Author

Brittany Spencer

Reporter

Brittany Spencer is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I.