The province of Saskatchewan is giving victims of domestic violence more supports with new legislature Wednesday.
They are being given 10 days of unpaid leave from work in order to seek help, programs or services following an incident of interpersonal violence.
The move comes after a year of consultations between the Ministries of Justice, Social Services and Labour Relations and Workplace Safety to determine what supports are needed to combat this issue.
The Saskatchewan Employment (Interpersonal Violence Leave) Amendment Act, 2017, provides survivors of interpersonal violence with 10 days of unpaid leave to access services or to relocate.
“We know that Saskatchewan has one of the highest rates of police-reported interpersonal violence across Canada,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said in a news release. “As government and other agencies work toward long-term solutions for this issue, survivors need immediate supports to escape dangerous situations.”
To be eligible, an employee, employee’s child or a person for whom an employee is a caregiver must be the victim of interpersonal violence and the employee requires time off work to:
- Seek medical attention
- Obtain services from a victims services organization
- Obtain psychological or other professional services
- Relocate, either temporarily or permanently
Seek legal or law enforcement assistance and attend court appearances
The 10 days of leave can be taken in shorter blocks of a few hours or a few days as needed. Only the time away from work would be considered leave time.
Employees must have worked for an employer for a minimum of 13 weeks and will be required to provide evidence of the services being received if asked for in order to qualify for the leave. The amendment also requires employers to keep personal information confidential.
“We need to see a shift in attitudes about acceptable behaviour and we need to develop measures to identify and prevent abusive relationships,” Morgan said in a news release. “The province will be working with other jurisdictions to seek agreement from the federal government to extend employment insurance benefits for survivors of interpersonal violence.”
In addition, the Ministry of Justice is exploring the potential for implementation of a targeted interpersonal violence disclosure process with Saskatchewan police and community organizations. This approach has been undertaken successfully in the United Kingdom, where it is known as Clare’s Law.
Introduced in 2015, Clare’s Law allows a woman in the UK to discover if her partner has a history of violence.
It was named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
It began in 2014 and within the first year of the pilot project that included four police forces, 1,300 women walked away from violent relationship as a result of the information they received.