NDP Private Members Bill on Sexual and Domestic Violence to be reintroduced

NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler, MPP for London West, was joined today by representatives of academia, labour and the community to announce the reintroduction of her Private Member’s Bill to provide survivors of sexual violence or domestic violence with up to 10 days of paid leave, and reasonable unpaid leave. The bill also allows for workplace accommodations and requires all employers to provide mandatory workplace training on domestic and sexual violence. 

The need for paid leave for survivors of domestic violence was raised repeatedly by groups and individuals during hearings of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment and public input on Bill 132. The issue was also highlighted in submissions made to the Changing Workplaces Review and is referenced in the Special Advisors’ Interim Report, which identifies paid domestic violence/sexual violence leave as one of the options that must be considered.

The bill would entitle survivors to up to 10 days of paid leave to obtain specific services related to the violence:

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Obtaining support from a victim services organization, women’s shelter, rape crisis centre, sexual assault centre, or other community agency
  • Accessing psychological or other professional counseling
  • Arranging temporary or permanent relocation
  • Dealing with legal or law enforcement matters or participating in civil or criminal proceedings.

The bill received unanimous support when it passed second reading on March 10, 2016, and has secured widespread endorsement.

Barb MacQuarrie from the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children worked with the Canadian Labour Congress on a national study in 2014 that showed the need for the legislation. “Economic security is often the primary factor that influences a survivor’s decision to leave an abuser and/or to not return to an abusive situation,” she said. “Giving workers access to paid leave can help them to maintain their employment while they deal with situations of abuse.”

Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) Secretary-Treasurer, expressed the OFL’s strong support for the bill. “Women escaping domestic violence, who fear for their or their family’s safety should not have to worry about losing their jobs if they need to attend court or access community support. Access to domestic violence leave will open avenues to safety for a great many Ontarians.”

Director of Advocacy and Communications for the Toronto YWCA Maureen Adams said: “YWCA Toronto is proud to support this bill because it helps ensure that women can access the emergency services and support needed to escape violence without jeopardizing their employment. It was a special moment to see MPPs across all parties come together last March to support this bill at second reading. We hope that will happen again – and that this bill will pass without delay.”