‘Help and heal­ing’

MLAs show unan­i­mous sup­port for bill to give paid and un­paid leave for vic­tims of do­mes­tic and sexual vi­o­lence

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS

Vic­tims of do­mes­tic or sexual vi­o­lence could soon be able to take paid leave from work thanks to leg­is­la­tion work­ing its way through P.E.I.’s leg­is­la­ture.

A pri­vate mem­bers bill to amend the Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards Act, which passed sec­ond read­ing Thurs­day, pro­vides for up to three days of paid leave in one year for vic­tims of do­mes­tic, in­ti­mate part­ner or sexual vi­o­lence.

Ge­orge­town-St. Peters MLA Steven My­ers tabled the bill and said he was happy for sur­vivors who needed leg­is­la­tion like it so they can get the help they need.

It will also help start con­ver­sa­tions around the prov­ince, he said.

“It al­lows for peo­ple to hear it out of other peo­ple’s mouths and it hope­fully gives peo­ple the strength to come for­ward to say, ‘this has hap­pened to me’ and look for the help and heal­ing they need in their life,” he said.

The bill passed sec­ond read­ing with the unan­i­mous sup­port of MLAs on all sides of the house, in­clud­ing an amend­ment from the Lib­er­als to also ex­tend un­paid leave for up to seven days in one year.

For­mer NHL player Theo Fleury joined My­ers on the floor of the leg­is­la­ture for dis­cus­sion of the bill that lasted about an hour Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Fleury, who is sched­uled to speak at a PC Party fundraiser in Char­lot­te­town tonight, talked about his ex­pe­ri­ences re­cov­er­ing from abuse and hear­ing from oth­ers who were vic­tims.

“To­day is about lead­er­ship. It’s not about the bill. It’s about lead­er­ship.” Theo Fleury

As he ad­dressed MLAs in the house, Fleury said he strug­gled with many issues af­ter his abuse and thought that by telling his story some­thing would come out of it.

“By telling my story I was able to help other peo­ple find the courage to also tell their own story,” he said.

Fleury told the MLAs they could show the pub­lic that they sup­port, be­lieve and un­der­stand them.

“To­day is about lead­er­ship. It’s not about the bill. It’s about lead­er­ship,” he said.

Union of Pub­lic Sec­tor Em­ploy­ees pres­i­dent Karen Jack­son, who was at the leg­is­la­ture to watch the de­bate, said the union has been lob­by­ing the gov­ern­ment for sev­eral years to make changes to the Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards

Act.

“It’s just so en­light­en­ing to see every­body work­ing to­gether in the leg­isla­tive assem­bly for some­thing good,” she said.

Jack­son said it’s im­por­tant for em­ploy­ees across the prov­ince to have fi­nan­cial and job se­cu­rity if they want to leave a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tion.

“It could pos­si­bly save lives,” she said.

RYAN ROSS/THE GUARDIAN

For­mer NHL player Theo Fleury, right, talks to Union of Pub­lic Sec­tor Em­ploy­ees pres­i­dent Karen Jack­son at the leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day af­ter a bill to amend the Em­ploy­ment Stan­dards Act passed sec­ond read­ing. The bill would ex­tend paid and un­paid leave to vic­tims of do­mes­tic and sexual vi­o­lence.

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