Paid Leave for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Petition: Paid Leave for Survivors of Domestic Violence

As the province with the highest rates of intimate partner violence in all of Canada, the SEIU-West Young Workers Committee made it their priority to demand better support for those experiencing domestic violence.

On December 6 2017, the Day of Action and Remembrance of Violence Against Women, the Saskatchewan government passed legislation that would allow workers to access 10 unpaid days of work as a result of domestic violence.  SEIU-West has mixed feelings about this step. While it is a step in the right direction and we are certainly proud of the efforts of our Young Workers Committee, PATHS and the SFL, it does not come close to what is required to support survivors of domestic violence.

Many people experiencing domestic violence cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Research tells us that people with a history of domestic violence “have a more disrupted work history, are consequently on lower personal incomes, have had to change jobs more often, and more often work in casual and part time roles than women without violence experiences.” It is in this precarious work protection is most needed due to the lack of worker authority and benefits such as paid sick leave. Those who experience IPV count on their employment as a means to escape a violent situation because the financial security of a job allows the person to leave the abusive relationship while, as far as possible, maintaining their standard of living for themselves and for their families. That is why any serious response to our domestic violence crisis in Saskatchewan must include paid job leave. So why is this government not including paid leave?

Justice Minister Don Morgan responded to this question by stating, "It puts the cost of that directly on the employer. The recommendation that came forward from some of the employer groups was this would be a disincentive for an employer to hire a woman." SEIU-West and its Young Worker Committee are shocked to hear this response. This public statement ignores our rights under Human Rights legislation, wherein employers cannot discriminate in the hiring process. We cannot believe that our Justice Minister would include this as rationale for not supporting survivors of domestic violence – it’s simply disturbing.  

SEIU-West encourages you to sign this petition which calls for paid leave. We must continue to advocate for those experiencing domestic violence – and our elected leaders must pay attention, recognize our legal rights and build upon this very foundation to create much-needed improvements.

Petition to the Government of Saskatchewan

We, the undersigned residents of the Province of Saskatchewan, wish to bring to your attention the following:

That Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence among the provinces;
That Saskatchewan must do more to protect survivors of domestic violence;
That, for many, the violence follows them to work;
That employers should take every reasonable precaution in the workplace to protect workers who are
survivors of domestic violence;
That five days of paid leave and up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave should be made available to workers
who are survivors of domestic violence; and
That critical workplace supports made available to survivors of domestic violence should also be made
available to workers living with post-­traumatic stress disorder as a result of domestic violence.
We, in the prayer that reads as follows, respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan:
Call upon the Saskatchewan Party government to pass legislation to ensure critical supports in the workplace –
including reasonable accommodation and paid and unpaid leave – for survivors of domestic violence.