Workplace Violence (Consultation closed)

Why is New Brunswick proposing new regulations on workplace violence?

Stakeholders from the health care, education, retail and other sectors have raised concerns about sources of violence in their work environments and the impact it has on their employees and business.

Health care staff provide around-the-clock care. As a result, many staff working emergency rooms, psychiatric units and in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, encounter systemic workplace violence. A 2016 New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) survey stated that among New Brunswick nurses, three out of 10 faced physical violence on the job and 73% of registered nurses encountered harassment while carrying out their daily duties.

New Brunswick remains one of few Canadian provinces and territories without workplace violence or harassment in its occupational health and safety legislation. The proposed provisions could apply to all workers, or specific industrial sectors. 

Many employers are recognizing the impact of violence and harassment in their workplace and, as a result, are developing solutions and strategies to address the problem. An increase in awareness is usually accompanied by a decrease in tolerance for incidents of abuse.

Violence and harassment is an issue that can affect all business sectors and occupations:

  • It affects the safety and security of employees, customers, clients and business owners.
  • It claims a high personal cost from the emotional trauma and physical injury experienced by victims, their families and co-workers.

It brings high costs to the employer, including:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Higher sick leave costs
  • Lost productivity
  • Reduced profitability
  • High employee turnover
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Increased workers’ compensation rates

What is workplace violence?

What is workplace harassment?

All jurisdictions with legislation addressing workplace violence and harrasment provide a definition of what that term includes. Definitions of workplace violence include some of the following language:

  • Threat of physical force to cause injury (not contingent on there being an actual injury)
  • Attempted and actual actions
  • Threatening statements and behaviours

All jurisdictions with legislation addressing workplace harassment provide a definition of what that term includes. Definitions of workplace harassment include some of the following language:

  • A reference to bullying
  • Conduct or commentary that is known or should be reasonably known to be unwelcome
  • Threats at the worksite to an employee's health or safety 
  • Repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures; or a single, serious occurrence of conduct, or a single serious comment, display, action or gesture, that has a lasting, harmful effect on the employee’s health or safety
  • A qualifier that any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of employees or the place of employment is not included in the definition

What are other jurisdictions doing?

All jurisdictions have some form of legislation on the topic of workplace violence and/or harassment except for New Brunswick, Quebec and the Yukon. Out of the nine jurisdictions with workplace violence legislation, four also have separate legislative provisions for workplace harassment. Quebec only has legislation on psychological harassment.

workplace violence canada graphic


In all Canadian legislation on workplace violence and workplace harassment, none treat the topic of workplace violence and harassment as one issue. Where a jurisdiction includes both violence and harassment in its legislation or regulation, the two topics are not combined but rather have separate sections that include their specific provisions. Currently five out of 12 (42%) Canadian jurisdictions have workplace harassment legislation enacted.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the recent consultation




General Resources

E-News Sign-up