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We often hear, particularly in the lead up to an election, how important every voice is and how every vote counts. And that holds true as members of the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) join together with Canadians from coast-to-coast on February 27 to speak out against bullying on Pink Shirt Day. 

  • Download the poster from the HEU website

In Canada, pink became a national symbol of anti-bullying after two Nova Scotia teenagers stood up for a classmate who was bullied at school for wearing a pink shirt. The high school students – David Shepherd and Travis Price – took up the cause, recruited their classmates, and organized a pink protest. 

They bought and distributed 50 pink tank tops to male students, and they all wore them in a day of solidarity against bullying. 

Harassment and bullying have grown to disturbing proportions in our society, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure our schools and workplaces are safe environments. Widely publicized teen suicides have drawn even more attention to the issue, in particular, the devastating trend of cyberbullying. 

Our members reported in alarming numbers that they have been bullied or have witnessed bullying at work,” says HEU Secretary-Business Manager Bonnie Pearson. 

To address this, HEU lobbied with other unions to have workplace bullying and harassment included as a compensable mental health claim through WorkSafeBC. 

That led to the passage of Bill 14 on May 31, 2012 changing the Workers Compensation Act to include: “a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.” 

Stakeholders are collaborating with WorkSafeBC to produce an OH&S policy on workplace bullying and harassment along with resources for workers and employers. 

The Hospital Employees’ Union is the B.C. health care services division of CUPE.