The president of the Canadian Labour Congress would like to see employers in all provinces and territories allow 10 days off — five paid — a year for victims of domestic violence.
That is what the federal government is working toward for all federally-regulated workers. It’s meant to give people time to leave their abusive partners, deal with police, get medical treatment or seek legal advice.
Some provinces have begun amending their Employment Standards Acts, but not all are consistent. P.E.I., for example, allows for three days of paid leave and seven days of unpaid leave for victims of domestic violence.
CLC president Hassan Yussuff would like to see P.E.I. and other provinces in line with the federal government.
“We are obviously pleased that legislation has been passed and that is a paid time but If we had our ultimate goal it would be five days paid and five days unpaid,” he said.
Montreal Massacre anniversary
Yussuff was calling for action on Dec. 6, the 29th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, where 14 women were murdered at the École Polytechnique. But he said eliminating violence against women needs to be top of mind year round.
“This is something that we as a society can’t just do on Dec. 6, we have to do it on a more frequent basis.”
One way is to support victims by ensuring they can work to escape the violence and not worry about losing pay, Yussuff said.
“Further disadvantaging them economically is not the right way to go about helping them,” he said.
“By employers and unions taking the issue on I think it shows a remarkable appreciation for the struggle to get out of the violent situation but more importantly to recognize this is a societal problem, this isn’t an individual workers problem.”
Charlottetown adopted policy
Last month, the City of Charlottetown passed the Domestic Violence Policy & Safety Plan, which encompasses not only physical violence but also psychological, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.
Employees experiencing domestic violence could receive up to three weeks of paid leave and additional days of unpaid leave, depending on the circumstances.
As for the federal initiative, changes to the Canada Labour Code require a legislative and regulatory process that could take two years, but Labour Minister Patty Hajdu’s office has said the government wants to move quickly.
About 900,000 employees in federally regulated private sector workplaces — such as banks, marine shipping, air and rail transportation and telecommunications — will be eligible for the new federal benefit.