SEIU-West Report of PATHS Launch of Intimate Partner Violence & the Workplace Study

Purple promotes the continuing efforts of Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) as they launch the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) & the Workplace – results of their Saskatchewan Study.

SEIU-West members attended the release of PATHS report on Friday, October 27. This is their report.

Jessica Brode, Executive Director of Saskatchewan Status of Women office spoke about how Saskatchewan has the highest rate of police reported domestic or interpersonal violence in Canada. We need supports in place to assist with this problem and we need to work with government to address the high incidence.

Corey Zaharuk from Regina Police Services spoke about how their department is doing an operational review to determine if their responses are where they need to be. They are working at getting better at victim-centered care. In 2012, there were 14 incidents a day and we are currently at 17 incidents per day where there is violence or potential violence with interpersonal relationships. He went on to discuss that domestic conflicts are complex. Regina Police Services will have a domestic conflict release on Nov. 8 (and will be launching a website as well with information on where to turn, safety planning, education, law, warning signs and information about reporting domestic conflict to police). Regina Police Services acknowledge a need for additional training to improve the ability to recognize and respond to interpersonal violence calls. They are committed to engage in preventative work and the hope is to have integrated teams in one office that work together to really tackle interpersonal violence. They are creating policy changes to ensure better consistency.

Crystal Giesbrecht wrote the report and discussed with us the process to come to these findings. There were focus groups and an online survey, “Can work be safe when home isn’t?” There was a demonstrated significant impact on work. Work is a source of financial and social support to victims of interpersonal violence and incidents don’t end at the door at home. Perpetrators go to their partner’s work, use work resources and increase the risk of danger, as well as reduce productivity. The results of the survey were that 50.5% of respondents had experienced interpersonal violence versus 33% in pan-Canadian study. 83% of those that reported abuse reported that abuse happened at work. 29% of the time, partner comes to work to check up, 33% are prevented from attending work and 44% had repeated contact from partner while at work. There are survivors’ quotes online, but what struck her was that some weren’t sure if they were victims or not because it was “only” emotional abuse. Crystal went on to say that there is a lack of awareness in workplaces if there is suspected interpersonal violence affecting their co-workers. Many were not sure if there was a policy at work to address this issue. Workplaces need programs to implement policies. In some provinces, there is paid leave to deal with issues from interpersonal violence. The cost is 0.02% of payroll to give this paid leave. Crystal points out that it is more cost effective to provide this leave than it is to pay for retraining, etc. She noted that there is such a stigma with interpersonal violence that workers won’t falsely identify a need for this leave. She further noted that people are more likely to disclose to co-workers than bosses, so there is a real need for training for all staff in workplaces.

The overall findings are consistent with Pan Canadian study, with the exception that incidents are higher in Saskatchewan. There is a huge need to educate, inform and support this initiative in workplaces. She further went on to acknowledge many partners within the union movement and other players that assisted in this work. There are planned workshops on Nov. 9 (Regina)and Nov. 14 (Saskatoon).

It’s crucial to work with the government and create a task force to address the impact on violence. The Sask Party is working on legislation but she hasn’t seen what the government plans to legislate.

PATHS proposed changes are:

  • Legislation to protect workers experiencing IPV from job loss
  • workplace obligation to support workers
  • Workplace obligation to support workers
  • Workplace policies on IPV
  • Leaves for workers experiencing IPV
  • Workplace accommodations
  • Workplace services and supports
  • Training in worksites (awareness and information on how to respond)
  • Offering interventions and safety plans on an individualized, case-by-case basis

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