“We must also continue to put pressure on all levels of government to make sure the public services and supports are available, and adequately funded, to aid these individuals through the process of rebuilding their lives, free of violence.” — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer
Ottawa (13 June 2017) — Members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) who work at the mainland Nova Scotia Elizabeth Fry Society have ratified an agreement that includes language granting leave specifically for domestic violence.
Unions, governments looking to include domestic violence leaves
There is a growing movement across Canada to ensure that workers who are experiencing domestic violence have the ability to take leave from work for legal, medical and counseling appointments without fear of losing their jobs. Early this year, the United Steelworkers of Canada negotiated domestic violence leave for members who work at the long-term care facility — Rivercrest Care Centre in Alberta. In 2012, the Yukon Teachers’ Association negotiated a contract with 5 paid days for domestic leave.
Provincially, there are several provinces that have either enacted legislation or are reviewing the possibility of legislation to ensure leave for workers who are experiencing domestic violence.
In 2016, Manitoba became the first province to guarantee domestic violence leave. Employees in Manitoba are entitled to 10 days of leave (5 of which are paid). They are also entitled to up to 17 weeks of continuous leave.
This year, the Alberta government introduced legislation that gives workers up to 10 days of unpaid domestic violence leave. Alberta also introduced, in 2016, a law that is designed to help victims of domestic violence break leases early without a financial penalty.
Public services and support programs must be available to help in rebuilding a life free from violence
A private member’s bill has been introduced in Saskatchewan that would allow workers access to the same leave as in Manitoba, and similar legislation has been proposed in B.C.
As part of the recently announced changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, workers can now take time off for personal leave if they are experiencing domestic violence or are being threatened by the possibly of domestic or sexual abuse. This is not currently listed as a separate reason for taking leave but will be included in the proposed 10 days of personal leave each year of which 2 days will be paid leave.
“Canadian unions are working hard to ensure that our members and others who are experiencing domestic violence have the ability to take dedicated paid leave to get the necessary assistance they need,” stated Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees. "But it doesn't stop there."
She added, “We must also continue to put pressure on all levels of government to make sure the public services and supports are available, and adequately funded, to aid these individuals through the process of rebuilding their lives, free of violence.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE