Categorized | Canadian Politics

Paid time off urged for domestic violence victims

Posted on 06 October 2017 by admin

NDP proposes bill that gives 10 days to access help, services.

Victims of domestic violence should have the option of taking up to 10 days of paid leave so they — and their children — can seek medical help or get counselling, find a place to live or deal with the police and courts, the Ontario government is being urged.

A private member’s bill proposed by the NDP is to “protect survivors,” said leader Andrea Horwath.

Her bill would not only provide paid time off — funded by the provincial government — but also as many as 15 weeks of unpaid leave for those affected by sex assault or violence in the home, or those whose kids have been victimized.

“We know for sure that one of the biggest barriers to leaving an abusive relationship is not having certainty around being able to pay the bills, to find another place to live with your kids, and put a roof over their head and food on the table,” Horwath said in an interview with the Star.

“It’s a chaotic situation, and they end up losing their pay, or portions of their pay — but in many cases they end up losing their job as well … that’s not acceptable in this day and age.”

Horwath said it’s time to “seize the moment” given the government is in the process of overhauling workplace legislation, but the Liberals have not committed to the 10 paid days off.

“The Liberals talk a good game but are very disappointing when it comes to putting actions in place that really make a difference in people’s lives,” said Horwath.

Taking time off can help women temporarily get away from a place where their abuser knows to find them, or make alternate work arrangements, added Horwath, recalling the case of Lori Dupont, a Windsor nurse who was harassed at the hospital and later killed by her former partner, at her workplace.

Horwath’s bill would also mandate training and education for managers and staff on the issue.

Ontario’s labour minister said the government’s workplace Bill 148 proposes “a new job-protected leave of absence if an employee or their child experience domestic or sexual violence, or has been threatened with violence” for 10 days and up to 15 weeks off work.

“This is a direct result of the feedback we received from the public during the 10-day consultation this past summer,” said Kevin Flynn.

However, whether the worker’s salary would continue during the initial 10 days has not yet been decided, and Flynn said a deal could be worked out with the federal government.

“Historically, leaves in Ontario have been a partnership between us and the federal government — we provide the job protection and the federal government provides income to those affected,” he said in a statement to the Star.

Last fall, MPP Peggy Sattler, the NDPs women’s issues critic, brought forward a similar bill, saying that survivors needed both the time, and a steady income, while getting out of abusive situations.

An estimated 10 per cent of those who experience domestic violence end up losing their jobs over issues related to the ongoing crises.

Paid time off for those dealing with domestic crisis has the support of 54 unions represented by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

In 2016, Manitoba became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass a bill allowing for five paid days off, in addition to unpaid time off.

Sattler has said that in Australia, where victims are provided with 10 paid days off, the average taken is three.

 

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