The SEIU-West Young Workers Committee has worked hard to lobby the provincial government to ensure job security for victims of domestic violence. Then in April 2017, the Saskatchewan NDP put forward a private members bill, Bill 604, that addressed this issue. It’s important that we pass Bill 604 because Saskatchewan has the highest rates of domestic violence by intimate partners amongst all Canadian provinces, and victims of domestic violence are often forced to leave their homes quickly to escape dangerous situations. Furthermore, financial stability and a supportive work environment are vital for a victim of domestic violence. Legislation that supports victims escaping circumstances of domestic violence have already been enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.
If passed, Bill 604 will allow victims of domestic violence to take paid and unpaid leave from work. Such leave can be taken to seek medical attention for the victim or their child, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to obtain counselling, to relocate, and to seek legal or law enforcement assistance. The bill requires accommodation by employers to protect workers if an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in a workplace. Bill 604 also allows the termination of tenancy – breaking leases – for victims of domestic violence that believe their safety, or the safety of their child, is at risk.