The Unitarian Church of Vancouver implements practices that are consistent with Unitarian principles and with the mission and vision of the congregation, including practices that are judged to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Ethical Operations Policy

This policy applies to investments, operations, and purchase of goods and services. Periodically the church audits its investment, operational, and purchasing practices and sets goals to improve its overall ethical performance in these areas. The church provides and promotes education on socially and environmentally responsible practices.


As feasible, church staff and volunteers develop and implement practical procedures for implementing this policy. Without excluding other alternatives, such procedures may include annual goal setting and use of ethical investment guidelines, environmentally sustainable operations checklists, ethical purchasing checklists, and similar procedures that staff and the board determine from time to time to be appropriate.

Email chat group ethical policy

Members may be required to provide their real names to a group moderator in order to have regular posting privileges. Moderators will refuse postings that appear to them to be defamatory of any person or organization or inconsistent with the principles of Unitarian Universalism, and may refuse postings that they consider to be too long, insufficiently related to the mission or activities of the church, or excessively commercial in nature.

The chat group protocol policy was approved by Board of Trustees, 23 Aug 2005

Policies and Checklists

Ethical Operations Policy (21 Nov 2006)

Environmentally Sustainable Operations checklist

Ethical Purchasing Checklists

Privacy Policy

In accordance with applicable laws, the Unitarian Church of Vancouver (the “Church”) is committed to protecting the privacy of its members, adherents, donors, volunteers, employees, directors, officers and any other persons about or from whom the Church collects personal information. The Church embraces the principles of the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information to ensure that all personal information is properly collected, used only for the purposes for which it is collected and is disposed of in a safe and timely manner when no longer required.

Full text of UCV Privacy Policy

Abuse and Harassment Prevention Policies and Procedures

Approved by the Board of Trustees: 19 October 2004


Churches are communities committed to enhancing human well-being. Because of this commitment and because participation in many church activities is open to all members of society, churches provide a context in which abuse or harassment of vulnerable persons, especially children and youth, can readily occur. Consistent with the Unitarian principles that it upholds, the Unitarian Church of Vancouver seeks to protect all people associated with the church from all forms of abuse and harassment. The following policies and procedures are intended to help ensure that protection.


The following definitions are used in these policies and procedures.

Abuse A general term used in this policy to refer to all forms of  physical, sexual or emotional abuse of children or adults and child neglect.
Abuse of authority Behaviour used by a person in a position of authority to interfere unreasonably with an employee or an employee’s work, including humiliation, intimidation, threats, and coercion. It does not include normal managerial activities, such as counseling, performance appraisal or discipline, as long as these are not being used in a discriminatory manner.
Child abuse Physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect of a child or youth (an individual under the age of 19 years). Child abuse is a criminal act.
Child neglect Failure to provide for the safety, health or emotional needs of a child. Child neglect is a criminal act.
Child sexual abuse Use of a child for sexual purposes by an adult or adolescent. It involves exposing a child to any sexual activity or behaviour. Sexual abuse most often involves fondling and may include inviting a child to touch or be touched sexually. Other forms of sexual abuse include sexual intercourse, juvenile prostitution and sexual exploitation through child pornography. Sexual abuse is inherently emotionally abusive and is often accompanied by other forms of mistreatment. It is a betrayal of trust and an abuse of power over the child. Child sexual abuse is a criminal act.
Domestic violence Interpersonal violence that occurs in the context of a family.
Emotional and psychological abuse Behaviour that causes another person to feel intimidated or humiliated including threats, ridicule, repeated criticism, verbal abuse, put downs, destruction of personal belongings, forced social isolation, and destruction of property.
Employee An individual who is employed by an employer including an independent contractor who has entered into an agreement with an employer;
Harassment Any unwanted physical or verbal conduct that offends or humiliates a person. Such conduct can interfere with a person’s ability to do a job or obtain a service. Harassment is a type of discrimination. It can take many forms, such as:

–       threats, intimidation, or verbal abuse;

–       unwelcome remarks or jokes about subjects like a person’s race, religion, disability or age;

–       displaying sexist, racist or other offensive pictures or posters;

–       sexually suggestive remarks or gestures;

–       unnecessary physical contact, such as touching, patting, pinching or punching;

–       physical assault, including sexual assault.

If a person accused of harassment should have known that the behaviour was unwelcome, he or she may be considered responsible, even for unintentional harassment. If an employer or manager knew or should have known that an inappropriate situation existed, and did nothing about it, the courts may impose penalties on that organization or person. (Canadian Human Rights Commission)

Improper discipline Physical or psychological threats or force used against a child, employee or volunteer.
Improper touching
(inappropriate touching)
Unnecessary physical contact including touching, patting, pinching or punching.
Interpersonal violence A pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour that can include physical, sexual, economic, emotional, and psychological abuse of another to establish and maintain power and control. It may include harassment, isolation, over-protectiveness, threats, destruction of personal property, intimidation, humiliation, bullying, hitting, kicking, and abuse of pets.
Physical abuse Intentional use of force against another person including such acts as pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, biting, hair-pulling, forced sexual activity, or physical restraint. Children, women or men may experience physical abuse.
Sexual abuse Sexual involvement or sexual contact with a person who is a minor or who is legally incompetent, or sexual activity between adults that is non-consensual.



Sexual harassment Offensive or humiliating behaviour that is related to a person’s sex, as well as behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, unwelcome, hostile, or offensive work environment, or that could reasonably be thought to put sexual conditions on a person’s job or employment opportunities. Sexual harassment includes undesired or inappropriate sexually oriented humour or language; inappropriate questions or comments about sexual behaviour or preference; undesired physical contact; comments which result in the objectification of an individual; conduct or communication which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.


Key Supporting Legislation and Guidelines


British Columbia Ministry for Children and Family Development Regulations

Canadian Unitarian Council Safe Congregations Policy Guidelines (See CUC website.)

Unitarian Congregation of South Peel. September, 2002. Safe Steps Policy Manual
(Draft 7).
Mississauga, Ontario.  (See CUC website.)

Volunteer Canada, no date. The Safe Steps Volunteer Screening Program. Ontario Screening Initiative.



1. General

1.1  No form of abuse, inappropriate touching, improper discipline, or harassment is tolerated in relation to any church event.

2.  Screening and Training of Employees Regarding Abuse

2.1  All employees are subject to a careful screening and selection process that includes mandatory criminal record checks.

2.2  Any employee who has a conviction or outstanding charge that indicates that the individual presents a risk of physical or sexual abuse to children, youth or vulnerable adults shall not be permitted to work in any position that brings the employee into unsupervised contact with children, youth or vulnerable adults.

2.3  Employees shall receive orientation regarding their responsibilities for preventing and reporting abuse.

2.4  Employees shall receive periodic training regarding the prevention and reporting of abuse and child neglect.

2.5  Procedures exist to guide employees working with children, youth and vulnerable adults so as to protect those individuals from any form of abuse. These procedures include the reporting of suspected abuse as required by law.

3.  Screening and Training of Volunteers Working with Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults

3.1  All volunteers who request to work with children, youth or vulnerable adults in the church are subject to a careful screening and selection process that includes mandatory criminal record checks before they are permitted to work with those individuals in any program of the church.

3.2  All volunteers for the church’s children’s and youth programs shall have participated appropriately in the church for at least six months before being permitted to work in those programs. This requirement may be waived if the volunteer provides a letter of recommendation from another Unitarian congregation.

3.3  Any volunteer who has a conviction or outstanding charge that indicates that the individual presents a risk of physical or sexual abuse to children, youth or vulnerable adults shall not be permitted to work as a volunteer in any position that brings him or her into unsupervised contact with those individuals.

3.4  Procedures exist to orient and instruct volunteers working with children, youth and vulnerable adults so as to protect those individuals from any form of abuse or neglect. These procedures include reporting suspected abuse as required by law. (British Columbia law requires that any adult with a suspicion that a child under the age of 16 may have been abused is required to report the suspicion to the Ministry for Children and Family Development.)

4.  Spending Time Alone With Children

4.1  Adults (age 16+) shall not spend extended time alone with a child without the consent of the child’s guardian and the knowledge of the program supervisor (religious education coordinator or assistants).

4.2  All classroom doors without windows shall remain open during Religious Education classes and in other circumstances when children are present.

4.3  Staff or senior program volunteers may be assigned to monitor volunteer and staff behaviour in classrooms to ensure child safety.

4.4  Adults who form a relationship with children through church activities shall not seek opportunities to spend time with the child “off site”. If off site interactions occur the appropriate people shall be informed (as above).

4.5  An adult who finds him or herself alone with a child for any significant length of time, or in a situation of emotional intensity with a child, shall make every effort to find another adult to be present, or at least inform the child’s parent or guardian as quickly as possible under the circumstances.

4.6  In cases where programming requires an adult to be alone with children (e.g., overnight camps, field trips) event planners shall make every effort to protect each child’s privacy. Girls and boys shall not change together and adults shall change separately from the children.

5.  Physical Contact with Children

5.1  Any physical contact between adults and children should occur in “public” only, and be sanctioned by the parent/guardian and the program supervisor. For example, hugs and kisses for younger children or physical ‘rough housing’ with older kids should occur only under these circumstances.

5.2  Wherever possible, parents or guardians shall give permission for staff or volunteers to assist young children requiring assistance with toileting or changing.


6.  Outings

6.1  Religious Education program staff shall obtain written authorization from the parent/guardian before allowing children on social outings.

6.2  Church staff and volunteers shall not transport children in a vehicle without the prior written permission of the parent/guardian’s and the knowledge of the program leaders.

7.  Parent/Child Communication

7.1  Parents of children enrolled in church programs shall be encouraged to ask questions and stay current on the nature of the adult/child interactions in the program.

7.2  Parents shall be encouraged to talk with their children about church programs and the volunteers and staff they encounter.

8.  Harassment

8.1  The Unitarian Church of Vancouver does not tolerate any form of harassment.

8.2  All allegations of harassment shall be dealt with seriously, speedily and confidentially.

8.3  The Church will not disclose the name of the complainant or alleged perpetrator or the circumstances related to the complaint to any person except where disclosure is necessary for the purpose of disciplinary measures in relation thereto.

8.4  Information about a complaint will not be put in a complainant’s personnel file, when a complaint is made in good faith.

9.  Amendment of Procedures

9.1  Recommendations for changing the following procedures which support these policies shall be referred to the Board for review and approval.



  1.  Employee Recruitment and Screening to Reduce the Risk of Abuse and Harassment

Supervisors (or members of hiring committees) use the following procedures when recruiting, screening and hiring all new employees.

1.1  For each prospective staff position, evaluate the nature of the risk of abuse to children and others, considering such factors as participants, setting, activity, supervision and relationship.

1.2  Develop a clear job description for the position.

1.3  Recruit potential applicants based on the job description and the skills required. Job postings should indicate that criminal records checks and at least two background reference checks will be required as part of the application process.

1.4  Use an application form to keep track of important information about the applicants.

1.5  Interview prospective candidates. The degree of formality will depend upon the position and the level of risk of abuse to children inherent in the position.

1.6  Check references (minimum of 2) and make record of the contact.

1.7  Request a criminal records check. Arranged for completed criminal record checks to be sent confidentially to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee.

2.  Employee Orientation, Training and Supervision Regarding Abuse and Harassment

2.1  Supervisors ensure that new employees are appropriately oriented to their position, the policies and procedures of the organization, and the physical premises, including any features of the premises that may pose potential safety risks to children and others.

2.2  Upon hiring, and annually thereafter, each employee and contract staff member is provided with a copy of the UCV Abuse and Harassment Policies and Procedures. The employee’s supervisor is required to review the Policies and Procedures with the employee to ensure the employee understands them.

2.3  All employees are required to sign annually an “Affirmation of Responsibility and Commitment” indicating they have read and understand the Abuse and Harassment Policies and Procedures.

2.4  The church assists its members to find resources within the community that address the issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

2.5  Senior staff establish additional procedures for employees as necessary to protect against abuse.

3.  Volunteer Screening, Training and Monitoring to Prevent Abuse

3.1  All volunteers working regularly in the children and youth programs of the church are required to sign annually an “Affirmation of Responsibility and Commitment” indicating they have read and understand the Abuse and Harassment Policies and Procedures.

3.2  Upon assignment to work in a children or youth program, and annually thereafter, each volunteer working in such a program is provided with a copy of the UCV Abuse and Harassment Policies and Procedures. The committee chair or staff responsible for the program reviews the Policies and Procedures with the volunteer to ensure understanding.

3.4  Where practical, procedures regarding screening, training and monitoring of volunteers working with children, youth or vulnerable adults shall be similar to the procedures used for employees.

3.5  Senior staff establish additional procedures for volunteers as necessary to protect against abuse.

4.  Re-evaluation to Reduce the Risk of Abuse

4.1  All employees and volunteers who work with children, youth or vulnerable adults are required to apply for a criminal records check every three (3) years. Continued work in children and youth programs of the church is contingent upon the outcome of these criminal record checks.

5.  Reporting Abuse

5.1  Provincial law requires reporting of suspected child abuse. Any person concerned that an abuse may have taken place, should immediately report the possible abuse to the Ministry for Children and Family Development directly and to the Church Parish Minister.

5.2  Any person who suspects that a stranger has abused a child, should call 911 and speak directly to the police.

5.3  If a child reports abuse, the person receiving the report should allow the child to speak about what has happened, affirm the child’s feelings and needs, and not attempt to interview the child or ask the child leading questions about what has happened. Interviewing the child should be done by professionals specially trained to deal with this sensitive issue. Persons receiving a report from a child should take care not to frighten the child by talking about reporting the abuse. In many cases, abusers tell children that bad things will happen if the child tells anyone else.

5.4  Reporting of alleged abuse that is not of a criminal nature follows the same procedure as outlined for reporting alleged harassment.

5.5  In the case of criminal acts or other serious incidents of alleged abuse or harassment the church seeks legal counsel and advises its insurance company regarding the incident.

6.  Church Response to Allegations of Harassment

6.1  Any person experiencing an incident of harassment as defined in this policy should report it to a responsible member of the church. For a volunteer or visitor the incident is reported to a staff member or a church board member. For a staff member, the incident is reported to their supervisor. If a supervisor is alleged to have been a perpetrator, the person experiencing the harassment reports the incident to the Human Resources Committee Chair or to a church board member.

6.2  The church member or staff to whom the incident is first reported reports the incident to the Human Resources Committee Chair and to the police immediately if she or he believes it to be of a criminal nature.

6.3  The person receiving the complaint asks the complainant to complete a written incident report describing the date, time and place of the incident, the behaviour of concern and the names of the people involved. Except in cases believed to involve a criminal act, the church will not process a complaint unless a written incident report has been completed.

6.4  The person receiving the incident report submits it to the Human Resources Committee.

6.5  The Human Resources Committee initiates an investigation into the incident within 14 days of the submission of the report.

6.6  If the investigator believes that the allegation can be resolved through an informal process such as a facilitated meeting between the complainant and the alleged perpetrator, this method is encouraged.

6.7  If the investigator considers an informal process to be inappropriate, or if it is not acceptable to the complainant, the investigator will refer the incident to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee who will appoint a mediator to meet separately with the complainant and the alleged perpetrator(s) and, where appropriate, interview witnesses. The mediator will make a record of each interview. The mediator will attempt to facilitate agreement between the parties about actions to be taken related to the alleged incident, and if this is successful, report the results to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee.

6.8  If the mediation does not produce an agreed course of action, the Chair of the Human Resources Committee will appoint two members of the Committee to serve on an appeal panel. All concerned persons will be interviewed by the members of the panel. The panel may also, where appropriate, interview witnesses. Any person directly involved in the incident may bring an advocate to the reporting interview.

6.9  All people present at mediation and appeal interviews will be required to agree to maintain confidentiality to protect the reputations of any innocent people who may be involved. Any party who does not agree to maintain confidentiality regarding the proceedings of the mediation will not be permitted to participate in the mediation.

6.10  If the appeal panel determines that harassment has occurred, the panel will prepare a written report of the incident and its recommendations for consideration to the Board of Trustees. The recommendations may include educational remedies or a range of sanctions including written reprimands to be included on an employee’s personnel file, termination of employment or expulsion as a church member. The Board of Trustees will make a final decision regarding any sanctions to be imposed.




Affirmation of Responsibility and Commitment



Name of Staff/Volunteer


  1. I have read and understand the Unitarian Church of Vancouver Abuse and Harassment Policies and Procedures and agree to adhere to those policies and procedures.
  2. I pledge to conduct myself in a manner that conveys respect and consideration for each person.
  3. I affirm my commitment to help maintain an environment free of abuse, sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, and harassment.
  4. I affirm my commitment to maintain an environment free of discrimination and harassment based on colour, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
  5. I pledge to do my best to protect and support those who come to me at risk or in crisis.
  6. I accept the responsibility for educating myself about child abuse, child neglect, harassment and related subjects.



_______________________________                                        ________________________

Signature of Staff/Volunteer                                                    Date





Name of Witness



______________________________                                          ___________________________

Signature of Witness                                                               Date