TORONTO, 8 September 1997 -- A task force has been appointed to undertake a thorough review of the Anglican Church's national guidelines on sexual harassment and assault.
The guidelines are required to be reviewed every two years. This review, the first since the guidelines were adopted, will also examine difficulties which were experienced in a recent harassment case involving national staff members.
The task force members, appointed by the officers of General Synod, are: Archdeacon Colin Johnson, Executive Assistant to the Bishop of Toronto; George Hostick, a retired executive; and Linda Barry-Hollowell, a labour lawyer who will act as chair.
The mandate of the task force is to ensure that the guidelines provide a just, speedy, streamlined and efficient structure to handle sexual harassment and abuse complaints. It will identify difficulties in the present policy and make specific recommendations for change to the Council of General Synod.
The task force will consult widely. Members of the Council of General Synod, standing committee members, and national staff will all be invited to provide written submissions, on or before October 22, 1997, concerning reflections and recommendations for change. In addition, the task force will be available to hear oral presentations from national staff members on October 16 and 24, 1997. All written or oral statements will be held by the Task Force members in strictest confidence both during and after the review process is completed.
An interim status report will be prepared for the November Council of General Synod meeting with a draft report and recommendations being completed by December 31, 1997. Further consultation opportunities to review the draft recommendations will take place in January and February, 1998, with a final report being forwarded to the Council of General Synod for approval in March, 1998.
September 15, 1997 Invitation to provide written or oral presentations
October 22 Final deadline for written submissions
October 16, 24 Meetings with national staff for oral presentations
November 1 Interim status report to Council of General Synod
December 31 Draft report and recommendations
Jan / Feb 1998 Consultation on draft recommendations
February 28 Final report to the Council of General Synod
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For more information contact: Linda Barry-Hollowell, Barrister and Solicitor, Barrister and Solicitor, 905-641-1551
Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence) or
Sam Carriere, Editor, Print Resources 416-924-9199 ext. 256
Ms. Linda Barry-Hollowell, Chair of the Review Task Force, was welcomed and outlined the process to date. Twenty-two written submissions had been received. A draft report will be prepared by the end of December, following which a further opportunity will be provided for response to the recommendations. The task force will submit its final report to Council of General Synod in March 1998 for approval, prior to forwarding to General Synod.
The Primate expressed appreciation to Ms. Barry Hollowell. [Other members of the task force are Mr. George Hostick and Archdeacon Colin Johnston.]
That this Council express its gratitude and support to the Officers of General Synod for their leadership in, and management of, the recent complaint of sexual harassement at Church House. CARRIED #02-11-97
TORONTO, July 4, 1997 -- A settlement has been reached in the issue of sexual harassment brought before the Ontario Human Rights Commission by Pauline Hedmann, an employee in the Anglican Church's financial management department, against the General Synod and Robert Armstrong, the director of financial management.
The settlement, which was brought about with assistance from the Human Rights Commission, includes the resignation of Ms. Hedmann and Mr. Armstrong, the withdrawal of the application to the Human Rights Commission, and specified compensation by the General Synod to Ms. Hedmann and Mr. Armstrong.
As part of its settlement with Ms. Hedmann, the General Synod has agreed to publish a statement in the Anglican Journal. It says the church recognizes that its level of education on issues of sexual harassment and assault as well as its policy have been inadequate. The church regrets that these inadequacies and the length of time it has taken in dealing with this complaint has resulted in additional emotional strain for Ms. Hedmann.
"In situations like these there are no winners, only losers", said Archbishop Michael Peers in a statement to national staff. "Two valued and competent employees have resigned their jobs; the General Synod has incurred significant expense; members of staff have been through a time of tension and division".
Ms. Hedmann's complaint was made initially under the church's protocol on sexual harassment in June, 1996, and a panel to hear the complaint was convened. The internal process halted when Ms. Hedmann took her action before the Human Rights Commission.
The church's protocol was adopted in 1994 and scheduled to be reviewed in two years. The review was placed on hold until the present case was resolved. Archbishop Peers said Linda Barry-Hollowell, a labour lawyer practising in St. Catharines, Ontario, will now initiate the review process.
The archbishop's statement noted the extra stress that has been experienced by staff during the case. "I want to acknowledge the pain that many staff members, not only the protagonists, have suffered," he said. The church's management team has arranged for the services of two respected human resources consultants to assist staff with debriefing. This will lead to a program of training on issues of sexual harassment in the fall.
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Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence)