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Girls & Women

This Canadian Politician Wants to Ban High Heels From Ontario Dress Codes

Liberal MPP Cristina Martins is introducing a bill today that would prohibit employers in Ontario from obliging women to wear high heels as part of a workplace dress code.

If passed, this would mean that bars and restaurants, for example, could not legally require their female servers to wear heels.

Martins’ bill, the Putting Your Best Foot Forward Act 2017, would revise the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect employees from being required to wear unsafe footwear under their dress code.

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Currently the act primarily lists details as they pertain to protective footwear in industrial and healthcare workplaces (where workers might face hazardous conditions).

British Columbia has already banned mandatory high heels at work, and in 2016, the Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a report on gender-specific dress codes, saying that women should not be required to wear tight uniforms, low-cut shirts and heels while working in bars and restaurants.

“Workplace safety should always be the number one priority. Safety at work should be as simple as buckling your seatbelt. This legislation will help make work in Ontario more fair and protect workers in Davenport and across the province,” Martins said in a statement today.

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Alexander Byrne-Krzycki, legislative assistant to and spokesperson for MPP Martins, said that he and Martins have been talking about the issue of forced heels for some time, adding that much of the MPP’s staff has worked in the hospitality industry and could speak on the subject from experience.

“There are a lot of young women that are afraid to speak out,” Byrne-Krzycki told Global Citizen, “because they are worried they will lose shifts and lose their jobs.”

The bill is will be going to second reading on Thursday this week, and if it passes from there, the act will be sent to a committee, according to Byrne-Krzycki.

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After that, he hopes the bill will be passed by May 2018.

“Podiatrists treat foot pain and deformities in women twice as often as foot disabilities in men, often due to having to wear high heels in their workplaces,” said Dr. James Hill, president of the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association, in a statement. “This bill will help to address these issues and keep more people healthy in Ontario.”

Byrne-Krzycki says the bill will hopefully provide support to women across the province.

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