December 6 is the Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women – this commemoration date was established to recognize the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, which killed fourteen women. This memorial has the goal of stopping gender-based violence, and yet women continue to experience misogyny violence throughout Canada and the world.
Last year, SEIU-West shared some disturbing findings from a Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) survey that centered on the relationship of domestic violence and work. It found that the overwhelming majority of those who suffer from domestic abuse are women.
One year later, we have seen some significant gains from the awareness that came from the survey results.
In March of 2016, we witnessed Bill 8 pass in Manitoba, marking Canada’s first province to take ground-breaking action around the effects of domestic abuse and work. For years, women were being terminated from work if they did not return to work, even when facing domestic abuse – there just wasn’t any protection. But this new law offers victims of domestic violence both paid and unpaid leave from work, thereby securing employment. This is particularly vital for victims of domestic violence as they may need time off from work while seeking safety away from abusers. The law provides 5 paid days (taken in a row or when needed) as well as an additional 17 weeks of unpaid time.
The relationship between work and domestic abuse cannot be understated. The CLC survey found that often, women will not leave abusive relationships due to financial insecurity. With the effects of domestic abuse already so harrowing, it is not right to further victimize the victims of domestic abuse – they should be able to keep their job and the employer should have the duty to accommodate. Stable income and supportive work environments are essential to rebuilding lives. And there is good news for employers, beyond the morality of the issue. The CLC survey found that domestic abuse had negative effects on workers’ productivity and attendance. In fact, the CLC study concluded that 82% said domestic violence hurt their job performance.
SEIU-West supports the Manitoba legislation – we need to move beyond the idea that domestic violence is “nobody’s business” – it is a critical issue that must be addressed publicly.
The SEIU-West Young Workers Committee (YWC) has a particular interest in ensuring this kind of legislation is established in Saskatchewan. After launching their #YWFightStigma campaign earlier this year connections around domestic abuse and mental health were made clear. Experiencing abuse can lead to severe mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addictions, and anxiety. The YWC want to ensure legislative protection, awareness, and support for those suffering from mental health, and Bill 8 in Manitoba is a great example of how to accomplish this. Feeling stressed about work should be the last thing on your mind when experiencing domestic abuse, and the YWC understand that legislation like Bill 8 can help victims a real way.
That’s why the YWC is launching a petition in connection with their #YWFightStigma campaign on the Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women.
Support Saskatchewan legislation that would protect the jobs of victims experiencing domestic abuse. Sign the online petition today and download the paper petition here to start collecting signatures. Please return all papers copies to Catherine.Gendron@seiuwest.ca
The petitions will be emailed/mailed to the following Saskatchewan politicians: Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister of Health, Minister of Remote Health, Minister of Social Services, Critic for Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Critic for Health, Critic for Social Services, and the Leader of the Official Opposition.
We, the undersigned residents of the Province of Saskatchewan, wish to bring to your attention the following:
That citizens of Saskatchewan are concerned at the lack of support for victims of domestic abuse;
That one in three workers have experienced domestic violence, and for many the violence follows them to work;
That financial stability and a supportive work environment are vital for any victim of domestic abuse;
That victims of domestic abuse should not be further victimized at work;
That over 80 percent of domestic violence victims report that their work performance was negatively affected;
That Manitoba has already enacted such legislation and Ontario is on its way to enacting legislation that ensures job security for victims of domestic violence;
That Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence by intimate partners in Canada;
We, in the prayer that reads as follows, respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan:
Enact legislation that requires all employers to provide a minimum of 5 paid work days and a minimum of 17 weeks unpaid work leave with the assurance of job security upon return for all victims of domestic abuse in Saskatchewan.