A Brief History of BFBC – Part I

BullyFreeBC began in 2007 as a community-based dialogue group, organized by a coalition of volunteering individuals and staff from Lower Mainland human rights and legal service agencies. Participants met several times to discuss and share concerns about workplace bullying and harassment and then invited others to join in the conversation in May 2008 at an SFU-Wosk Centre for Dialogue event.

The dialogue group continued to meet over the next few years as diverse viewpoints helped to identify different types of harassment and contributed to a variety of options and solutions through working groups assigned to develop programming around law reform and awareness.

The Law Reform Working Group drafted legislation. The Awareness Group launched a website and began a social media program.

Recognizing the need for a more structured, formal and sustainable basis for operations, the organizers consulted with participants in 2010 and early 2011 to draft an agency mandate. Then BFBC registered as a provincial non-profit in April 2011.

As written into the Constitution, the purposes of the BullyFreeBC Society are:
a. to consult with various levels of government regarding anti-bullying legislation;
b. to assist government, companies and non-profit organizations to develop anti-bullying policies;
c. to educate the public about bullying;
d. to conduct research into bullying; and
e. to work with other groups to carry out the above purposes.

The duty of directors is to maintain the Society while working to fulfill the mandate. Membership supports this effort through dues and engagement.

After registering BFBC as a non-profit, the new directors outlined membership criteria and invited participants to join and help build the agency. Meanwhile, the group continued to hold dialogue sessions to discuss workplace bullying and legal reforms in Canada.

At that time, several provinces had already enacted workplace anti-bullying legislation (Quebec 2004 – website, Saskatchewan 2007 .pdf – 4 pp, Ontario 2009 .pdf – 10 pp), most recognizing the problem as an occupational health and safety concern.

As well, in 2009 the BC Supreme Court found that WorkSafeBC was treating workers with mental injuries differently from workers with physical injuries. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits this type of inequity, guaranteeing every Canadian equal treatment by public bodies (Section 15 – Equality Rights).

As a result of the BC Supreme Court decision (Plesner v. British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, 2009 BCCA 188 – CanLII), WorkSafeBC had to extend coverage to more mental stress injuries and deal with avoidable causes of workplace stress like harassment and bullying.

In March 2012, BFBC organized a law reform conference to consider the new coverage. Interested participants gathered for a day of presentations and discussion on how best to support employers and employees through the transition and requirements. The group attending and presenting helped to identify priorities and strategies, outlined training programs and how standards could be created, and made plans for connecting to different groups. Based on information collected and researched, BFBC distributed a grant-funded e-binder of resources on workplace anti-bullying programs, policies and law reform to people requesting the research.

According to the Workers Compensation Amendment Act 2011 – Bill 14, claims relating to mental disorders, including bullying and harassment, may now be accepted under the Workers Compensation Act. WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations and policies outline responsibilities for both supervisors and employees to prevent and address bullying and harassment in the workplace, and the WorkSafeBC website provides free resources such as guidebooks and forms.

Next time > Part II – Since Bill 14

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