Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Staffers on Parliament Hill Call for Closer Look at Workplace Bullying: Survey

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Staffers on Parliament Hill Call for Closer Look at Workplace Bullying: Survey

Article excerpt

Hill staffers call out bullying: CP survey

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OTTAWA - The #MeToo movement may have given national prominence to the issue of sexual misconduct on Parliament Hill, but some of the responses to a recent Canadian Press survey suggest bullying and exploitation of those who work for political bosses are largely unexamined problems.

"Sexual harassment happens and is devastating to those that experience it, but it is dwarfed by 'regular' harassment that is far more prevalent and just as destructive," wrote one respondent to the anonymous online survey, which asked political staffers in Ottawa for their views and experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment.

"Many staffers have broken down, were forced out of their jobs, and many have contemplated suicide over the intense harassment and exploitation of staffers."

The Canadian Press questionnaire was distributed among those who work in the Hill offices of MPs, senators and cabinet ministers. There is no way to verify the size of the population, so the non-representative results of the survey do not allow for broad conclusions about the prevalence of the problem.

Still, the 266 responses do provide a rare glimpse into how both male and female employees perceive the challenges they face as they work behind the scenes for powerful political superiors.

Sixteen of the 75 people who responded to an open-ended question at the end of the survey inviting additional comments or feedback raised the issue of workplace bullying, abuse of power, exploitation or other forms of non-sexual harassment.

"You would be surprised by how many offices burn through staff and how many staff are afraid to speak out because there are no good options for recourse," one respondent wrote.

"I'm more concerned about a different type of power play on the Hill," wrote another, noting the lack of job security leaves staffers vulnerable to exploitation. …

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