VANCOUVER, Aug. 30, 2019 /CNW/ - Unifor urges the B.C. government to expedite the process of introducing paid domestic violence leave so it will no longer be one of the last holdouts in supporting Canadian women in receiving this much-needed support.
"Paid domestic violence leave is a program that saves lives, and further delays only puts more women and children at risk," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. "When we know that domestic violence claims the lives of hundreds of women each year, time is of the essence. Other governments have done it; B.C. can too."
The B.C. government previously announced 10 days of unpaid domestic violence leave but today announced they are seeking public consultation on providing paid leave.
"When we heard the leave would be unpaid after the initial announcement, our leadership and activists immediately spoke with government officials about the value and urgency of the leave being paid," said Lisa Kelly, Unifor Women's Department Director. "With years of workplace experiences across other provinces and countries with paid leave, we've shown how vital this program is and how it must be available to every woman in Canada. We will repeat our messages to the B.C. government during the consultation period."
B.C. was the last province to introduce domestic violence leave legislation and is one of only two provinces without paid leave. Manitoba was the first province to introduce paid leave in 2016, followed by eight other provinces and the federal government.
Employers know that domestic violence is a workplace issue but often report they don't know how to handle it. Data shows 71 per cent of employers reported experiencing a situation where it was necessary to protect a victim of domestic abuse. These findings are consistent with results from Western University's pan-Canadian survey that found one third of employees had experienced domestic violence at some point in their life.
"We've been bargaining paid domestic violence leave for 25 years. Employers have not raised issues with the costs of the program," said Kelly.
The costs to employers associated with paid domestic violence leave are largely offset by benefits to employers, including reduced turnover and improved productivity.
"The stress and danger of leaving a violent situation is only increased if you're worrying about losing pay, or worse, your job," said McGarrigle. "Protecting victims of domestic violence is our collective responsibility and today's announcement by the B.C. government is simply an unnecessary delay."
Unifor provides a guide for bargaining domestic violence leave programs and provisions, including a Women's Advocate; regularly supports women's shelters and charity programs; and works to eliminate violence against women through education and workplace initiatives.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.