Bill will make it easier for women to leave abusive situations because it safeguards their financial independence while providing much needed time to access services needed to help enhance their well-being and safety.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published October 05, 2017
London West MPP Peggy Sattler's Private Member's Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 passed second reading with unanimous support on October 20, 2016. Since then, Bill 26 has been in limbo.
The bill would provide ten days of paid leave, workplace accommodations and mandatory workplace training on domestic violence (DV) and sexual violence (SV).
Through petitions and emails to the Ontario Premier, Minister of Labour, and Minister of Women's Issues, many of you urged the Wynne government to bring Bill 26 forward for public consultation. The provincial government's standard response has been that they were in the process of finalizing the Changing Workplaces Review, and amendments proposed in Bill 26 were being considered as part of that review.
Unfortunately, the changing workplaces legislation, Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, falls decidedly short of what Bill 26 would provide.
Bill 148 allows for a mere two days of paid "personal emergency leave," plus an additional eight unpaid days each year. That doesn't come close to meeting the needs of those living with, leaving, or healing from the trauma of DV and SV.
On Thursday, September 28, NDP leader Andrea Horwath brought a new bill, Bill 157, Domestic and Sexual Violence Protection Act, 2017, to address DV and SV for debate.
Building on Sattler's bill and amendments suggested for Bill 148, Horwath has introduced this bill to continue to push legislation to address DV and SV.
Horwath's bill includes the following further steps to address DV and SV:
It amends the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to require employers to provide up to ten days of paid leave, as well as 15 weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year to employees who have experienced DV or SV or whose children have experienced DV or SV.
It includes a provision that requires the paid portion of this leave to be covered by the Ontario government.
The Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is also amended to require that employers provide mandatory training on DV and SV to all managers, supervisors and workers.
Survivors of DV and SV need sufficient paid time off to see doctors, attend crisis centres, find safe places to live, find affordable child care, find new schools, liaise with their children's teachers, get counselling for themselves and their children, attend the police, create safety plans, and go to court.
Legislation that includes mandatory training is essential to help employers recognize the warning signs, impacts and risks of DV and SV in order to develop informed, effective and appropriate workplace policies and plans.
According to [PDF] the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), between November 2015 and November 2016, 32 women living in Ontario were killed as a result of DV and SV.
The provisions of Horwath's bill will make it easier for women to leave abusive situations because it safeguards their financial independence while providing much needed time to access services needed to help enhance their well-being and safety.
The time for Bill 26 to become law is well overdue.
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