Workplaces and public spaces, including schools, are the frontline of escalating physical violence, threats, bullying, and harassment. These hazards are creating incredibly unsafe and unhealthy work, learning and living environments, often leading to physical and mental injuries for those exposed. The Workers Health & Safety Centre is asking Ontario high school students, many who are already working, to share their insight and experiences with workplace violence and harassment. In doing so, they just might win a significant cash scholarship!
Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) is once again offering cash scholarships to graduating Ontario high school students heading for post-secondary education this fall.
Applicants for the 2023 WHSC Student Scholarship Contest are asked to submit an essay explaining their experiences with violence and/or harassment at work if they can, or location such as school, if they have yet to experience violence at work. They must also explain their view of what should have been done to prevent this harm, what prevention resources are needed in future and what can be done to create better awareness of the need for action and resources.
“Asking students to critically consider this significant workplace and societal issue provides them an important learning opportunity,” explains Andrew Mudge, WHSC executive director. “We also recognize we can learn much from our youth. Their unique insights can help us and others develop or update resources, including training, to assist with awareness and the pursuit of work environments free of violence and harassment.”
Multiple scholarships available
The WHSC Student Scholarship Contest is open to Ontario high school students entering full-time or part-time studies at a publicly funded Ontario post-secondary institution.
In addition to submitting an essay, applicants must also share their contributions to the quality of life in their school and community, both in their own words and in a letter of recommendation from a teacher, other educator or representative of a community organization.
The top applicant will be awarded the Clifford Pilkey, WHSC Founder Memorial Scholarship and receive $5,000. The second-place applicant will be awarded the Fred Upshaw, Champion for Social Justice Memorial Scholarship and receive $3,000. Up to five additional applicants who merit recognition will receive $2,000 each.
Submissions are due by 4:00pm on Friday, July 21, 2023. Those responding should read the scholarship rules and application form very carefully.
Scope of the problem
Canadian workers are facing what many recognize as an epidemic of harassment and violence on the job. In fact, the first National Survey on Harassment and Violence at Work in Canada, published in 2022, found more than 70 per cent of workers experienced harassment and/or violence impacting their physical and mental health. Like previous research, teachers and support staff in the education sector, along with those in health care, public and social services were more likely to be exposed to work-related aggression.
New evidence of this ongoing escalation of violence mounts. A January 2023 survey of Toronto-area principles and vice-principles indicated a significant rise in violence in their school, including fighting, verbal abuse and the presence of weapons. On January 12, 2023, for instance, a school outreach worker at a secondary school in East York, Ontario was struck and injured by a bullet fired during an altercation in the school.
Many report not enough is being done. Unions representing teachers and other education workers, frontline health care workers, transit workers and many others, continue to call for action to prevent the escalating violence, including anti-violence and harassment training, including universally available mental health support resources.
Training key to prevention
“The fact the overwhelming majority of Canadian workers report being exposed and impacted by physical violence, threats, bullying and harassment every day at work is alarming and unacceptable,” says WHSC’s Mudge. “These hazards, if left unaddressed, will continue to impact the physical and mental health of those exposed.”
Here in Ontario, employers must develop and implement workplace violence and harassment policies and program(s) and provide workers with information and instruction on the content of these workplace policies, programs and related measures. Providing quality training to ensure learning is achieved is a key step for employers to meet this legal obligation.
WHSC, Ontario’s only government designated training centre, offers a variety of workplace violence and harassment resources and a three-hour training program covering essentials for those creating new or evaluating existing workplace-specific violence and harassment policies and programs.
Scholarship winners will be announced in fall 2023 through various WHSC media platforms and e-news publication. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe today.
Please note: We will only contact those students whose essay qualifies for a scholarship.
Please also note: No portion of WHSC revenues or government grants support this scholarship contest. WHSC contributions to this important occupational health and safety awareness and post-secondary education initiative is financed solely through funds raised at the Clifford Pilkey Memorial Golf Fundraiser.
To learn more about the WHSC Student Scholarship Contest please download and share the following:
2023 Student Scholarship Rules
2023 Student Scholarship Application Form
To learn more about workplace violence and harassment, including WHSC training offerings:
Visit: WHSC Workplace Violence Resources
Call: WHSC training services representative in your area
Connect with and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.