TORONTO _ The unions representing Canada’s performers and directors are launching a hotline for reporting incidents of sexual harassment, violence and other types of inappropriate workplace behaviour.
ACTRA and the Directors Guild of Canada say the line will offer support from human resources company Morneau Shepell.
The organizations say members can call 24-7 to access confidential resources that may range from counselling, to guidance on how to navigate the process of filing a complaint.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do, and by we I mean the industry, is change the culture,” says Dave Forget, national executive director of the DGC.
He says recent consultations with members and leadership within the guild revealed a reluctance by some workers to report misbehaviour.
“Keeping in mind that our members don’t work in continuous employment situations _ they’re freelancers, it’s precarious work _ and there’s often a legitimate concern that ‘I’m not going to be hired for the next contract, I’m not going to be hired for the next gig,”’ he said.
The confidential nature of the hotline aims to address some of those concerns, Forget said.
“I think a robust process that’s in place would both provide integrity and due process for the person who is accused, but also provide support for the person making the complaint and that should include a range of sanctions as appropriate.”
The potential outcome of someone calling the “HAVEN Helpline,” which can be accessed by app, web chat or phone, depends on the case. It may serve as a confidential record of an incident to be used in the future at the discretion of the caller, or the case might be referred to the union or the employer as a workplace complaint, Forget explained.
ACTRA and DGC have a combined membership of about 25,000 people. If someone who is not a member reaches out, Morneau Shepell has been instructed “they’re not to be turned away.”2
While the initiative aims to help the unions support membership more effectively, Forget says it’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful work environment, and that there’s a growing awareness of these issues in the industry.
“The ultimate responsibility for workplace safety is with the employer, let’s just be clear,” he said. “When something happens, the employer is required to both have a policy in place for dealing with these things and to make sure that that policy has integrity, that there’s due process and that it’s effective.”
In March, ACTRA and the directors guild were among several organizations who signed on to Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct.
The code calls on signatories to “encourage good-faith reporting and timely investigation.”