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BC Greens to reintroduce bill restricting the use of NDAs

May 6, 2024
   3 min read
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For immediate release

May 6, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley will reintroduce legislation to make it illegal for employers and other organizations to misuse non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases of harassment or discrimination. 

“Non-disclosure agreements are too often used as gag orders, enabling the concealment of harmful behaviors. It’s time that we put an end to this practice,” said Furstenau. 

“Originally intended to protect trade secrets, NDAs have evolved into instruments of silence against victims of workplace harassment and discrimination. This includes sexual harassment, racism, and ableism among other abuses. 

“The majority of discrimination and harassment victims tend to be women, particularly in cases of sexual harassment. However, individuals of all genders experience harassment in the workplace, whether it comes from supervisors, clients, or peers. This issue is widespread throughout British Columbia and globally. It’s time for us to step forward and ensure our workplaces are safe and transparent for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

“I am calling on the BC NDP and Premier Eby to support this important work.” 

This bill would limit the application and scope of non-disclosure agreements linked to acts and allegations of discrimination and harassment. This initiative follows the lead of PEI, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba, which have all collaborated with the Can’t Buy My Silence campaign.

Quote:

Dr. Julie Macfarlane, Member of the Order of Canada, Co-Founder of Can’t Buy My Silence, and Distinguished University Professor (Emerita), University of Windsor:

 “We are delighted that Sonia Furstenau has brought forward this legislation. It will stop the harm that is presently being inflicted on many British Columbians who are told they ‘must’ accept a permanent gag on them speaking even to family or therapists, in exchange for compensation and settlement. This is exploitative and wrong. We know that the thousands of British Columbians who have already been silenced – as well as those fighting against signing an NDA in order to get the settlement they are owed – will support this measure. We will be asking the BC Government in our meetings this week to recognize the importance of this issue and the moral imperative to support legislation to stop the cycle of violence and the protection of perpetrators.”

Background:

  • The Canadian Bar Association passed a resolution in 2019 to prevent the misuse of NDAs in harassment and discrimination cases.

  • The BC Green Caucus first tabled the Non-Disclosure Agreements Act in March 2023.

  • Several other provinces have put forward laws to prohibit the misuse of NDAs, including Manitoba, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, the latter of which prohibits universities from using NDAs in cases of faculty or student sexual misconduct.

  • Similar legislation exists or is in development in dozens of U.S. states, as well as Australia, Ireland, and England.

 

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | jojo.beattie@leg.bc.ca 

 

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