Abuse vic­tims to get paid leave

Law will al­low sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence 5 days with salary, an­other 5 un­paid


Vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence will be al­lowed five paid days off work and a fur­ther five un­paid days as part of a re­vamp of pro­vin­cial labour leg­is­la­tion, the Star has learned.

De­spite ini­tially propos­ing 10 days, as well as up to a fur­ther 15 weeks, all un­paid, the gov­ern­ment has changed course and is now propos­ing that salary be con­tin­ued for some of it.

“This amend­ment is the di­rect re­sult of what we heard from ad­vo­cates dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion process for Bill 148,” Min­is­ter of Labour Kevin Flynn said.

“When do­mes­tic or sex­ual vi­o­lence oc­curs, the last thing peo­ple and their fam­i­lies need to worry about is whether they will be able to take time off work. This amend­ment gives them that time, as well as the fi­nan­cial sup­port they need.”

In Septem­ber, NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath pro­posed a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill that would pro­vide 10 paid days off, with the prov­ince cov­er­ing the cost.

Un­der the Lib­eral plan, em­ploy­ers would be re­spon­si­ble for pay over those five days, and sources say the gov­ern­ment is ne­go­ti­at­ing with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to have some por­tion of the15 weeks off cov­ered by Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance. The amend­ments were prompted after hear­ing from ad­vo­cates who said leave is needed so that women can meet with po­lice, lawyers, ar­range and at­tend coun­selling or seek med­i­cal care for them­selves or their chil­dren.

As in other ju­ris­dic­tions with sim­i­lar leave pro­vi­sions, em­ploy­ers will be able to re­quest rea­son­able proof of what the time off was used for.

The prov­ince will also in­tro­duce guide­lines to pro­tect con­fi­den­tial­ity in the work­place.

“No one should ever have to choose be­tween a pay­cheque and their safety,” said Indira Naidoo-Har­ris, the prov­ince’s min­is­ter of the sta­tus of women.

“The re­al­ity is that there are too many bar­ri­ers to leav­ing an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, in­clud­ing tak­ing time off work. This amend­ment is an im­por­tant step for­ward. It as­sists peo­ple fac­ing these dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.”

Last year, NDP MPP Peggy Sat­tler (Lon­don West), with the sup­port of 54 unions in On­tario, ad­vo­cated for paid time off be­cause of the im­pact of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, with some stud­ies find­ing about 10 per cent of vic­tims end up los­ing their jobs be­cause of it.

The unions, all mem­bers of the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Labour, pledged to push for paid leave and better work­place sup­ports in all up­com­ing con­tract talks.

And at that time, Melissa Cor­beil spoke of her ex­pe­ri­ence leav­ing her hus­band fol­low­ing years of abuse. She said her Kitch­ener em­ployer al­lowed her to take time off and make it up later, so she could seek sup­port and help for her­self and her two young daugh­ters.

Sat­tler, who also pro­posed a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, noted the deaths of two women in south­west­ern On­tario — Lori Dupont and Theresa Vince — both killed at their work­place. Dupont, a nurse, was mur­dered by a doc­tor, her ex-part­ner at a Wind­sor hospi­tal. Vince was shot by her boss, who had been ha­rass­ing her at her Chatham work­place.

Man­i­toba al­ready has leg­is­la­tion pro­vid­ing for five days off, as well as un­paid leave. In Aus­tralia, 10 days of paid leave are pro­vided, with work­ers tak­ing an av­er­age of one to three.

Hor­wath has said the time off will “pro­tect sur­vivors.”

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