Saskatchewan offers protected leave to violence victims

By Taylor MacPherson
December 7, 2017 - 2:00pm

Victims in Saskatchewan will no longer need to worry about their job security when fleeing domestic violence, seeking support services or medical treatment, or attending court.

This week the provincial government announced 10 days of leave which is available to victims of interpersonal violence, in order to support the victims and ensure they do not suffer further by losing their income. The unpaid leave is available to any employee who has been a victim of violence and worked at their current job more than 13 weeks. The leave is also available if an employee’s child or dependant has been victimized, and can be taken in short blocks of a few hours, or all at once as required.

“If you need two hours to see a lawyer, see a therapist, or a day or two days to relocate, you’re entitled to take it – and take it as you need it,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan told reporters. “We wanted to protect people that were the victims of violence.”

The new legislation is expected to receive Royal Assent today, meaning the leave will be immediately available to all victims of violence.

Although some other provinces have implemented five days of paid leave along with five days of unpaid leave, Morgan said he felt the 10 days’ unpaid leave implemented in Saskatchewan was “a good starting point.” While some businesses raised concerns about the cost of the leave during the consultation process, Morgan said the business community was generally very supportive of the new legislation.

Morgan said the province is already considering other measures to protect victims further, including implementing “Clare’s Law,” a provision which allows police to warn victims or potential victims if their partner has a history of violence or abuse. Morgan said the law would allow police to be more proactive in preventing violence before it occurs, and would also let people make a more informed decision when choosing to leave or stay with their partner.

“[Clare’s Law] gives a police officer the authority to use what would ordinarily be regarded as private information,” Morgan said. “They would be authorized to release that information to the victim, so the victim could say ‘I don’t want to be with that person anymore.’”

Brendalee Pellerin, support services worker at the Prince Albert Safe Shelter for Women, said the leave will make a huge difference, particularly for working women who suffer domestic violence.

“They fear they will lose their job, lose their income, lose their way of life. They’re not always comfortable talking to their employer about what’s going on because there is that stigma,” Pellerin said. “I think it’s going to give women the freedom to get the services and the help that they need.”

Pellerin said she expects the legislation will make victims feel more comfortable coming forward, and also shows the entire province that the government is fighting back against the problem of violence.

“It’ll give the people going through domestic violence a lot of security knowing the province is recognizing this,” she said. “It’s taken a long time for us to realize that domestic violence happens in everybody’s walk of life.”

 

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