On March 15, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) representatives were at the Saskatchewan legislature to witness the introduction of a private member’s bill that would see necessary supports put into place for victims of domestic violence.
“The SFL has worked a long time with community organizations and the national labour movement to fight for more supports for victims of domestic violence in the workplace,” said Lori Johb, Secretary-Treasurer of the SFL and Chair of the SFL’s Women’s Committee, “we hope the provincial government will agree to pass Bill 603 – An Act to Provide Critical Supports for Victims of Domestic Violence,” she added.
If passed, the bill will allow victims of domestic violence to take paid and unpaid leave from work. Such leave can be taken to seek medical attention for the victim or their child, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to obtain counselling, to relocate, and to seek legal or law enforcement assistance.
The bill requires accommodation by employers to protect workers if an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in a workplace.
Bill 603 also allows the termination of tenancy – breaking leases – for victims of domestic violence that believe their safety, or the safety of their child, is at risk.
“These additional supports are so desperately needed for victims of domestic violence in Saskatchewan,” said Johb, “if passed, Saskatchewan will become a leader in Canada on this important topic,” she added.
Saskatchewan has the highest rates of domestic violence by intimate partners amongst all Canadian provinces, and victims of domestic violence are often forced to leave their homes quickly to escape dangerous situations. Furthermore, financial stability and a supportive work environment are vital for a victim of domestic violence.
Legislation that supports victims escaping circumstances of domestic violence has already been enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.