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Applicable Legislative Framework

The Canadian and Québec charters of rights and freedoms, the Civil Code of Québec, the federal Criminal Code and many specific laws govern, each within their scope of application, various behaviours that may qualify as bullying, depending on the context and the nature of the acts. These charters, codes and laws recognize people’s rights to dignity and integrity, and stipulate sanctions for the most serious acts of bullying and cyberbullying and the various phenomena that may be linked to them, such as harassment, threats, incitement of hatred or the non-consensual dissemination or publication of images.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone has the right to life, liberty, security and integrity, and to freedom of conscience and religion, and of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The Charter also provides certain legal safeguards for individuals in their interactions with the government or the criminal justice system.

Under this charter, everyone has the right to the equal benefit of the law, without discrimination, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Québec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms states that every human being has a right to life, and to personal security and inviolability. This charter further states that “every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language.” The Québec Charter adds every person’s right to dignity, honour and reputation and to respect for his or her private life, which has particular significance for people who are bullied. In addition, the Charter states that every person with a disability or senior has a right to protection from all forms of exploitation.

The Civil Code of Québec, in keeping with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the general principles of law, governs persons, relations between persons, and property. It includes provisions that may apply to bullying or cyberbullying.

The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits a series of criminal behaviours and stipulates the related sanctions. Some forms of bullying may be expressed by various behaviours, such as hitting, shoving or spitting on someone, but also by threatening death or serious bodily harm. These behaviours are all considered crimes. Also, in the case of repetitive threats, criminal harassment may be involved.

The Youth Protection Act applies to children experiencing situations that compromise or may compromise their security or development and whose parents fail to rectify the situation. It applies to children considered to be in great difficulty and in need of protection.

The Act Respecting Assistance for Victims of Crime recognizes the rights of victims of criminal offence and those of their immediate family and dependants.

The Crime Victims Compensation Act enables victims of criminal acts to obtain financial compensation for psychological or physical injury that they have sustained, and for medical and paramedical expenses incurred for their rehabilitation.

The Education Act governs the duties and obligations of public educational institutions, in particular the obligation to adopt and implement an action plan to fight against bullying and violence.

The Act Respecting Private Education governs the duties and obligations of private educational institutions, in particular the obligation to adopt and implement an action plan to fight against bullying and violence.

The Act Respecting Labour Standards upholds the right of any employee to work in an environment free from psychological harassment, and imposes on the employer the duty to take all reasonable means to prevent psychological harm and, when such conduct is brought to the employer’s attention, to put a stop to it.

The Act to Secure Handicapped Persons in the Exercise of their Rights with a View to Achieving Social, School and Workplace Integration aims to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities and, through the involvement of government departments and their networks, municipalities and public and private organizations, to help them integrate into society on an equal footing with other citizens. To this end, the Act provides for various measures specifically for people with disabilities, their families and their living environment, as well as the organization of resources and services for them.

The Act to Prevent and Fight Sexual Violence in Higher Education Institutions is designed to strengthen actions aimed at preventing and fighting sexual violence in higher education institutions. It also seeks to foster a healthy and safe living environment for students and staff.

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Last modified date :
June 28, 2021