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Paid Time Off For Victims of Domestic Violence

Source: Ottawa-union deal "beginning of a wave" written by Terry Pedwell

An article in the June 24, 2019 edition of the Ottawa Citizen announced that several new deals have been reached between the federal government and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) that allows paid time off for victims of domestic abuse. The tentative agreement includes up to ten paid days of leave to help union members escape their violent partner. This provision is being called "historic" by the union.

"I think its the beginning of a wave" says Barb Mac-Quarrie at Western University's Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children. "I expect that we are going to be seeing many more agreements and also more employer policies that proactively offer leave."

Canada currently has a patchwork of legislation that provides for domestic violence leave. Nationally, the government recently passed legislation allowing federally regulated workers who are survivors of such violence to take 10 days off - five of those days paid and five unpaid. The change, which includes time off for parents of children who are victims of family violence, is effective as of Sept. 1, 2019. While exact eligibility rules vary across the country, most provisions allow time off to seek medical attention, to move or to seek legal advice or to file a police report in connection with domestic violence.

What Statistics Canada refers to as intimate-partner violence - offences that occur between spouses, common-law partners, people who are dating or in other intimate relationships - accounted for 30% of all police-reported violent crime in Canada in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. Women were almost 8 in 10 victims.

A survey on the prevalence of domestic violence and how it is impacting work, conducted by Western University and the Canadian Labour Congress over a six-month period that ended in June 2014, indicated that Canadian employers lose nearly $78 million annually as a result of domestic violence, and that a third of respondents reported having experienced domestic violence at least once in their lifetime.

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