More complaints of harassment in Canada’s Parliament than ever before

The House of Commons received 35 complaints this year, compared to 19 last year.

by Hilary Beaumont
Jun 14 2018, 8:49pm

Eva Blue/VICE News

More people are complaining of harassment, assault and discrimination in Canada’s Parliament than ever before, according to a new report.

The report released by the House of Commons says the total number of informal and formal complaints it received in the 2017-18 fiscal year was 35, compared to 19 in 2016-17.

The 2015-16 report, which encompassed a longer time period from December 2014 to the end of the 2016 fiscal year (16 months), amassed only 10 informal and formal complaints.

The increase in complaints over the last three years does not necessarily indicate an increase in harassment, assault and discrimination; it may actually indicate that people feel more comfortable using the House of Commons process to file complaints, or are more aware of the process now.

Since the policy was first implemented in December 2014, men have more often been accused of harassment, and women have more often complained of being harassed.

In all three years, complainants accused MPs of harassment more than they accused their colleagues. This year’s report marks the first time investigators have found any formal complaint to be fully or partially substantiated.

The December 2014 policy on harassment governs MPs and their employees, and requires MPs to uphold a harassment-free workplace. Under the policy, the House of Commons must release numbers of the complaints it receives on an annual basis.


In 2017-18, there were 28 informal inquiries and seven formal complaints. Of the seven formal complaints, one alleged discrimination, one sexual harassment, and four were a mix of different kinds of abuse.

This year’s report marks the first time any formal complaint under the 2014 House of Commons policy was found by investigators to be partially or fully substantiated.

Of the seven formal complaints, one was found to be substantiated, one was partially substantiated, one was not substantiated and two were resolved outside of the policy, before the end of the investigation. Two were deemed “not receivable” by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

In 2016-17, there were 19 enquiries and six formal complaints. In the previous report, 2015-2016, there were seven enquiries and 3 formal complaints.

Gender of complainants

In 2017-18, men were the complainant in 11 cases, and the respondent in 20 cases. Women were the complainant in 17 cases, and the respondent in only four cases. In tThe rest of the cases, the genders of the complainants and respondents are unknown.

In 2016-17, men were the complainants in four cases, and the respondent in 11 cases. Women were the complainants in 15 cases and the respondent in 5.

In 2015-16, one man complained, and seven men were complained about. Nine women complained, and three women were complained about.

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Status of accused

In 2017-18, MPs were the target of 17 complaints, while only 11 targeted the complainant’s colleague. The status of the respondent was marked “other” in seven cases.

In 2016-17, MPs were the target of nine complaints. Only seven complaints targeted a colleague. Three respondents were marked “other.”

In 2015-16, MPs were the target of five complaints, while colleagues were the target of three. Two were marked “other.”

Cover image: Eva Blue for VICE News

Patty Hadju
sexually harassment