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Canada Takes On Workplace Bullies!

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Special Guest Blog from Workplace Bullying expert and Legislative Advocate Dr. Lisa M.S. Barrow, author of “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying“ and “Hope For a Healthy Workplace“.  She was deeply involved in Canada’s recent passage of anti-bullying legislation. 

Fortunately for employees who live in a few Canadian provinces such as Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec, legislation has been passed that addresses workplace harassment. Quebec (2002) was one of the first provinces to pass workplace harassment legislation. Saskatchewan followed suit in 2007.

The province of Ontario recently passed legislation under the Ontario Health & Safety Act that addresses workplace harassment. The new legislation goes into effect on June 15, 2010. Employers are required to incorporate policies that address not only workplace harassment but also workplace violence and domestic violence. Employers must educate and train employees about workplace violence and harassment. They must take reasonable steps to protect employees from acts of violence and harassment.


[excerpt from Dr. Barrow’s book, “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying”]

Upon first meeting, a bully may come across as polite, amiable and even jovial. The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes to mind. At the outset, a bully may be winsome and engaging, seeking to win your trust. All the while, he or she is gathering information that may prove useful later in thwarting the goals and desires you’ve revealed.

Bullies typically possess a “Type A” personality; they are competitive and appear driven, operating as they do from a sense of urgency. This has its advantages in the workplace but the shadow side of Type A is the tendency to become frustrated and verbally abusive when things don’t go according to plan. Impatience and temper tantrums are common for Type A individuals who haven’t engaged in the personal growth required to gain self-awareness, maintain emotional stability and consider situations from multiple points of view.

Because of the bully’s “two-faced” nature—considerate if things are going well and abusive if not—his or her presence in an organization can cause the work environment to become tense. People feel as if they are “walking on eggshells” around the bully. They feel he or she is a “sleeping giant” who could, upon awakening, explode with rage.

Above all, bullies crave power and control, and this craving underlies much of what they do, say and fail to do and say at work. Bullies use charm and deceit to further their own ends and seem oblivious to the trail of damage they leave behind, as long as their appetites for power and control are fulfilled.

When confronted, bullies typically ramp up the negativity rather than curtail it because they feel a loss of control. The more threatened they feel, the more aggressive they become, and unfortunately, they are easily threatened because of the deep-seated insecurity they strive at all costs to hide, even from themselves.

If you’ve been bullied, you may find it difficult to see past the bully’s shortcomings enough to feel sorry for him or her, and in that way to begin moving past bitterness toward forgiveness. It may help you to remember that despite all of their arrogance and bravado, bullies are needy, weak and yes, unwell. They abuse their power in order to feel good about themselves. They lash out at others in order to protect themselves. At the end of the day, they are afraid their inadequacies will be exposed. They are terrified of the emptiness inside their hearts, which they have not allowed love to reach.

[You can find more of Dr. Barrow’s posts or order her book at:   http://www.bulliednomore.com ]

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  1. John Doe says:

    How do I know that I am being bullied? Where do I get help?


    • You can start by clicking on both the “Definition of Workplace Bullying” and “Resource” tabs of the main site ( http://NoJobIsWorthThis.com ) to find links for information, resources, videos, books, articles etc. If you’re from Canada you can also try contacting Lisa Barrow through her business link in the article. I know for myself I knew I was in an horribly abusive situation but it wasn’t until I spoke to an employment attorney that I was told that what I was experiencing was classic Workplace Bullying and I was able to understand my rights and options. Before that I’d never heard of the term.


  2. jane doe says:

    you know. There will be no doubt. You will feel extrememly threatened. You’ll be shaking. If you don’t feel this, your not being bullied.


  3. katey says:

    Why is there no protection against workplace bullying in B.C. Canada? My delimna as I call it started in 2004 and since then I have never been able to get a job with the organization I worked for either in my town or any town in the management area for this organization. I went to college to enable my self to make a fair living wage and now I cannot use my certificate. I am finiancially ruined and have been almost gone over the edge emotionally since that time. I had to give up my house, which I rented and go with out a car for years amoungst many other hardships. I cannot afford a lawyer and my character has been defamated by those that chose to lied about me and also the ignorant failthful followers that choose to jump on the band wagon. This has happened to me twice by that same organization and everyone I talk to has some terrible story of thier own but no body every does anything.


  4. katey says:

    Why is it that I have been born and raised in Canada and up until recently there has been no protection for employees of the low end jobs especailly in the province of B.C. My life is in financial ruins and mentally I am broken due to the loss of my job through bulling tactics not only once but a second time, a few years later after I persisted to gain employment in another faicility, same organization. There is one of the highest rates of workplace bullying in my type of work, so it is not surprising that it has happened to me twice. I have been close to being homeless and have had to go without a car for years. I would have hired a lawyer had I had the money. Where is the protection for a Canadian Citizene that just wants to work in the line of work that one went to college to improve upon quality of life for one self and others, just to get a kick in the head. I have been the full circle, Ombudsman as well, no help was availabel until finally I decided to write to the actual health minister of Canada. On the website for that pariculiair ministry there was a email address offering some sort of info.


  5. Anonymous says:


    Until employees in BC stand up and let their voices be heard about workplace bullying, the problem will continue to be ignored. Unfortunately, in Ontario the death of employees was the catalyst for change. The new legislation in Ontario focuses on workplace violence and harassment. Perhaps employees should lobby their Mps about passing similar legislation. Take a look at the Health & Safety Act in BC to determine if violence or harassment are discussed, if not, then maybe you could solicit assistance from your local representatives. Andrea Horvath, from Hamilton, Ontario was instrumental in presenting the first private bill regarding workplace bullying. Your representative could contact her for assistance.


  6. Katey says:


    Thank you for your reply. In BC. there is no protection for workers who are bullied or unfaiirly terminated from thier place of employment. Union can only do so much. It is a crime that a company, business or corporation can employ people as casual on call employees for years, leaving such employees basically unprotected by union.


  7. Katey says:

    It is hard to believe that so many Canadian Citizens are not willing to stand up to unfair practices in the work place. Even with the union involved in my issues with an organization whose administrative people with titles such as human resources manager, assistant to and so forth until there was four or five assitants. I went right to the top and still could not resolve the issues due to lies and dishonesty on the part of the staff in the regional office. The false allegations that were made the first time were made by a supervisor who admitted that there never were any allegations. Pls people stand up and be counted. When we do a good job we deserve respect rather than to be lied about and tossed out to survive the elements of the world, with no income.


  8. Anonymus says:

    I think it is time that the Government of Saskatchewan wakes up and implements a policy that addresses bully behaviour within the crowns. EDITED is one of the worse organizations for group bully behaviour. There is a pack mentallity that exists within this organization


  9. Ryan says:

    I was an emloyee at [*******] for 2 1/2 years, even gaining a temporary leadhand position, and training other employees. In the fall of ’09 I had to enter a drug and alcohol treatment program. Shortly after I made an attempt on my life after a mental breakdown. My manager had me in his office every other day over trivial, or fictitious claims/issues I even recieved an ROE with shortage of work as reason for dismissal (having up to a years seniority over others who didn’t get one). I had to quit, before I killed myself. I may have been a statistic if I had stayed any longer. I am really happy to see discussions on this subject I hope nobody has to go through this crap. There needs to be some measure of protection against workplace bullying.


  10. AxeTheBullies says:

    I hear you ….. been there, done that. All of it. Also blackballed in my small town. Yes, it sucks big time. But you are doing what is right ….. fighting the beast. This psychological terror must be stopped at all costs. It is wrong, plain and simple. Don’t give up. I hope you have kept a journal, and documented, documented, documented. You will need it down the road. I already know that you are highly intelligent, as you are a target. So, use that brain to fight back. Use all of the resources you can that are available to you. Even if you lose this battle, you can pat yourself on the back for trying. Many times, an incident like yours can open new doors, possibly self-employment in a related, or even non-related field. But I also know the depression and anger you are feeling. Try to think positively. Think that you are going to win this. If you don’t, you will surely lose the battle. You must win it. It is what you’re all about. Again. it is very hard, but hang in there. You’ll like yourself for doing it. And you’ll never regret it. It is an awesome feeling to triumph over these idiots. They are a dime a dozen in this day and age. Very sad. And Gov’t is doing nothing about it. They sit back and avoid. They may say it is a ‘personality conflict’, or that it is trivial because it is just two people. We both know different. It is real. And it does major damage. Health, family, finances, well-being …….


  11. Katey says:

    I appreciate all resoponses. Thankyou so much and Now I know I am not crazy.


  12. Katey says:

    just the same! Why is it that we as humans that deserve to be treated with respect as The Canadian Charter Of Human Rights and Freedoms states, we will not stand up for ourselves.


  13. AxeTheBullies says:

    Katey …. now THERE is the question of the ________ !! (insert: day, week, month, year, decade, century)


  14. […] anything left to put into this ‘side project’ of mine. Countless hours of overtime, a bullying boss, a prescription for antidepressants and a doctor’s note later, I now have […]


  15. BC Girl says:

    Im a BC Girl being bullied bigtime at work right now by my employer & dont know what to do, who to talk to or how to approach any if this. I dont want to involve any staff, as each day goes by it gets worse & more complicated. im not sleepiing, eating well & feel much anxiety ( i have a doc appt 2moro). I think her intentions are that I will quite but I can’t as its a small town & i need this job. no one else here in the town is hiring.


    • BC Girl, I’m glad to hear you’re going to see a Dr for help getting through your situation. It is vital to take care of your health and find whatever you need to help you through this in both legal and health issues.


  16. Bullied worst then Cancer says:

    I wish bullies are stopped or made to pay for the targets loss income, esteem, character, confidence etc etc……..targets end up losing not only their job but some lose their safe place call home…and maybe family…due to stress…
    some bullies go from one work place to another and do the same thing over again…
    i was bullied…by the worst kind ever…jekyl and hyde personality….i worked for 15 years in my position, and damn good at what i did……but she lied lied lied and created something wrong out of what was right…..i got fired while on sick leave…..i am a single parent and had to endure alot of small town gossip, snubbing and even lost some of my confidence..

    Canada must do something……now………make these bullies and their mobbers…pay for the damage they do……..not only a slap in the hand…the company should also be enforced to have some policy against bullies and if ignored, they too should pay…
    i am sick of hearing about bullies……getting away with robbing people..over and over again…….sick sick….


    • Parts of Canada are already fighting bullying and harassment together as part of Workplace Violence legislation. And, it seems to be gaining steam in other nearby areas as well…


  17. I moved from a big city in Alberta to a small town in northern sask and have never experienced workplace bullying until I started a job in smalltown convience store I am now trying to get Sask government agencies to listen to my complaint and am being told by both human rights and workplace safety that it the other agencies problem who do i go to to file a complaint .The owner has all the females in the workplace scared and nervous when he is near them.I have already been fired from this job but I want to prevent this storeowner from doing this to other employees.He is also physical with the woman who work there.I was taught it is wrong to physically touch another workmate ever.So why cant this problem be addressed.WHO DO I REPORT IT TO.I do not want this happening to any other employees who work there


  18. Judy says:

    It is very difficult to fight bullying and harassment in the workplace in Alberta, because there are no laws protecting employees. Companies that have harassment policies, do not go far enough in protecting employees from bullying. In the company I was employed with, Human Resources did little to help employees. As a matter of fact, they preferred to get rid of the person who files the complaint. In my case they supported the management team that was bullying myself and other employees. Companies like this generally have poorly trained Management, who have been there many years and they basically cover each others’ asses rather than work towards improving the workplace..


    • No Name says:

      I have found the same thing in alberta, even with 5 fellow employees backing the claim. The company simply said there is no anti bulling laws in Alberta and they must follow harrassment law. since I am not one of the protected under this law I’m out of luck


    • I hope you were able to also speak with a qualified employment attorney to find out if any current rights may have helped you — here in the US they often don’t charge for the initial consultation. Warm wishes to you in moving forward. – Bev


  19. Anonymous says:

    am also experiencing workplace bullying. work construction and for the last 3 months 1 guy i work with has done nothing bu critisize and belittle me to others. he always complaining about how he does all my work and that i get others to do my job, today had enough of it and confronted him, tried to run into me with a dozer then lost his temper yelling and cursing had to see my boss as it really got out of hand, worst thing he was all calm when my boss spoke to him and now i look bad really sucks to be with people like this turns a good job into a nightmare.


  20. donna woito says:

    I am in a situation now that I have been bullied by my boss for the last 2 yrs..I am at my wits end and am going through such a hard time..I have lodged a complaint with Human Rights Canada for discrimination and since then the bullying has gotten worse..I work in a unionized place but they are of no use at all..It is the HR manager who is doing the bullying..she does not talk to me right now but she is doing the bullying through my boss..I was told friday that I am to do my job and my job only as I am doing extras and I am making the other girls feel they are not good at thier jobs..so I know when I have nothing to do and do nothing I will be called in for that as not being a team player and they will deny telling me that they toold me not to help people..Help!!


  21. SARA says:

    I find it very sad that so many employers get away with workplace bullying. New Brunswick has no protection for thier workers. IT IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. I work as a Ocupational Health Nurse Safety Coordinator and I see it everyday in the workplace with an increased in stress leave medical notes from employee’s. I myself face bullying everyday as i work prodominately will all male managers. I have reported it to my manager, General Manager and even the senior VP but my concerns are ignored i am just labeled as a trouble maker becauce i speak for others and myself. This is Canada and this is unacceptable that employers have this much power and there is no accoutability.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Something needs to be done about workplace bullying. Mine left me sick and weak at a time when I had to be fighting to get well. It’s a long road and I’m still not emotionally recovered. My health went down the tubes and I had tumors that had to be removed. Dismissed while on Short Term Disability…guess the bullying stopped being fun.


  23. Jan says:

    HR in my mind is the greatest culprit of workplace bullying. Most have gotten their degree in sociology, and are master manipulators. With the little knowledge they have obtained regarding personality types and traits they play employees and employers like master puppeteers. They use half truths, and the information they have gathered about each individual is to further advance and propel their own personal career paths. They are exceptional at looking like they care about the organization, the employer and employee, but in actual fact the thing they care about the most is ultimate control, they truly are wolves in sheep’s clothing!


  24. MB. Girl says:

    I believe you are right Jan, HR and in my experience Managers and the CEO. I was a target at my workplace. I want to know why is Manitoba not recognized for protection in legislation law in Canada? I’m from a very small town in MB. My workplace tried to terminate me after I wanted to do a job change they made my new job hell, tests every week, e-mails, locking me out of the office, breaks, holidays, said I didn’t get along with co-workers, I kept strict records of everything. My union was pretty weak, mediation came in they said “my spirit was broken” and gave me the choice to apply for a position of my choice when I felt better. I applied for another pos. but I had more problems again as the new Manager and my old Manager called me into the office as I was 5 min. late and gave me a termination warning I called my union and I said I can’t go back in there I said I have to quit I was crying and then my Union said sorry we did all we could do and we hung up. Then in 5 min. my union called me back and said I don’t have to work my required 2 wks by Union contract the workplace waived it. I could of retired with my magic 80 at 49 yrs of age. That’s what hurts me the most now. I’m very happy to have found this site. I feel strong now to talk but trust is still an issue for me.


  25. Ahria says:

    Forgiving someone often means staying in an abusive relationship, not moving past it. Feeling sorry for the abuser, analyzing the reasons for the behaviour means being drawn further into it. Sometimes not looking for reasons, just not accepting it is the most healing and helps one move on. Manipulators, especially psychopaths, will play a compassionate person and round and round the cycle one goes with never an end in sight – except to one’s self respect, health, wellness, and often finances. Stop making excuses for someone and just get away or years will pass in turmoil and you will wonder where they went.


    • Hi Ahria and thank your for your comment. I agree with you that people should not have to accept abuse, feel sorry for an abuser, or try to figure out why they are manipulating them. To me, forgiving someone is the act of letting go and moving on towards healing. In my opinion “making excuses” for some can indeed keep you bound to their abusive behavior.


  26. anon says:

    Workplace bullying is a JOKE in saskatchewan, our government claims to protect employees when in reality they DO NOT. Investigations are conducted, employees found guilty of harassment and labour relation violations and the employer is NOT held accountable!! No fines, NOTHING!! Employers can submit FALSE information to OH&S investigations and OH&S does NOT attempt to verify the validity of the information until employees present FACTS which results in special adjudication hearings where the employees face the bullies and experience more trauma. The gov’t did away with the tribunal and if you cannot afford a lawyer then there is NO HOPE to have harassment addressed. Sask Gov; OH&S and employers don’t think about the effects of harassment/bullying; or the effects during the investigation; and adjudication hearings. There is NO support to assist employees in dealing with the effects. OH&S harassment unit in SASK enables and encourages workplace harassment/bully when employers are NOT held accountable.


  27. Krash says:

    Here is another one for you….my wife was just told that if I (her retired husband) do not stop telling speeding motorists on our public, dead-end street, to slow down, that she will be fired!!
    Is this not some form of harassment or psychological threat?? How does my wife go about protecting herself (and me) from an employer like this. We are afraid that if we complain anywhere, she will be without a job….btw, she has worked here 20+ years loyally. I am almost afraid to walk my dog now for if I happen to look up at a driver of a speeding car, they will/can file a false report and my wife gets fired. Please help if anyone has some ideas on how we are to handle this situation….thank you.
    Ps. we are in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada.


  28. Shawn says:

    What can you do if management is the one mentally abusing you?


    • Helen says:

      HI: I worked for the [redacted] Ombudsman’s office. It is the most unfair, bullying place is all of government even thoughj it is established to investigate complaints of government unfairness. All managers were bulllies and acted in extreme unfairness. Hypocricy was the highpoint of their existence and of course all staff reporting to these managers felt free to harass and bully. The office had a culture of bullying.


  29. I am the husband of the wife whom as has been a victim of workplace bullying at [redacted] (Canada) the company that advertises we care about nurses and patients. Well truth to the matter is
    they created an intolerable and poisonous workplace environment, not only one where it became unbearable to work, but one that created immense emotional stress on my wife and caused her health to suffer as well, affecting the whole family. Our corporate business world has
    no place for workplace bullying and companies need to start doing
    something about it, as well has being legally held accountable.


  30. Daisy says:

    My experience is similar to bullied worst than cancer and shawn. Province with no anti-bullying policy in the workplace. No recourse for those bullied who have little money. If you resign and go for constructive dismissal legal process, employer has money and threaten you with a slap suit of defamation; will frame you with false accusations. Your mental agony is compounded. Bullies are sadists and they relish how miserable they made you.
    Will a group please form and let us generate a legal fund pool from where a victim can get loans without or at very low interest?


  31. Daisy says:

    Fully agree with Judy and Noname. As citizens of Canada can we band together and do something on the ground to start a solution towards the problem?


  32. Maggie says:

    does anyone know if an employee can leave the workplace without getting fired or reprimanded when the harassment/bullying is from the boss who is deliberately trying to break/provoke the employee to justify firing her? She has already registered complaints with the appropriate agencies but resolution takes time. Meanwhile, the boss is even more brutal and relentless. She tried applying for other jobs, but he’s a lawyer and has been trying to blacklist her. I’m worried she’s going to have a breakdown so she needs to know if there’s anything she can do in an immediate sense – can she leave for the day? How does she protect herself from being fired?



    • She needs to speak to an attorney familiar with employment law who can go over the rights she has in her state especially since “harassment” as opposed to generic bullying often falls under regulations currently in place.


  33. maria says:

    This article describes so well the person who bullied me! A high-ranking Faculty member and my supervisor, she was always jovial who even congratulated me on my work, but definitely a Type A, impatient person who I never felt at ease approaching. Then her true colors showed up one day, when she berated me for coming in sick and I verbally stood up to her. The day after, she dismissed me and sent me back to my home department.

    But the worst part was not the bully herself: it was the HR Department, who, upon knowing I would submit a grievance through my union, got ahead and handed me a “disciplinary letter” accusing me of agression and violence, citing Bill 168. This powerful bully could yell at me, but because I defended myself, I was the one accused of agression!

    This is what really knocked me out, my character defamed, my integrity crushed, my dignity stomped on, not by one individual, but by my employer.

    I have no recourse, as the letter is supposed to stay in my file for 2 years and the union grievance process takes ironically just as long (another slap in the face). For 2 years, I must live in fear that I can lose my job should another bully decide to attack me.

    I feel I have no rights and no legislation can protect me. I am totally demoralized at work. I am making plans to leave next year; but until then, I sink in despair, loathing my working hours, knowing my employer wronged me so harshly.

    I wonder if a workplace attorney is an option for me.


    • maria says:

      To me the real bully was the HR Dept, more than the agressive boss who kicked me out, because their actions will affect me for 2 years, because they repeatedly ignore all my emails with concerns, Because after my boss kicked me out, the HR Dept made sure I was further persecuted with a wrongful accustion that will last for 2 years and make me live in fear of expressing myself should someone else try to bully me. And they know they could get away with this because the union grievance is too slow to undo their actions.


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