Victims of domestic violence could get paid leave in Manitoba

Canada has a lot of work ahead to help victims of domestic violence.
Canada has a lot of work ahead to help victims of domestic violence. Stock photo from iStock/Getty Images.

Our newly minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, responded with “Because it’s 2015,” when asked why half of the people appointed to his cabinet were women.

Indeed, the advancement of women is great to see in Canadian politics. Unfortunately, an area where progress for women is lacking in Canada is for those who are affected by domestic violence.

Undeniably, the statistics of incidences of violence against women in Canada are grim. Statistics Canada found in a report released in January of 2015, that there were over 90,300 victims of domestic violence in 2013.  Women accounted for almost 80% of intimate partner victims reported to police.

A just-released Canadian study also found that men who killed their wives or girlfriends get smaller sentences than men accused of killing strangers. The study called these lighter sentences the “intimacy discount.”

As seen by these sobering statistics, Canada has a lot of work ahead to help victims of domestic violence, especially in light of having commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women just yesterday.

Not incidentally, that was also the day the province of Manitoba chose to announce an innovative new law that is set to help women who are stuck in domestic violence situations.

Labour minister Erin Brown announced plans to pass new legislation that would allow victims of domestic violence to get time off work without fear of losing their jobs.

In fact, this legislation seems to be the first of its kind in Canada. Said Brown: “This proposed first-in-Canada legislation would ensure that victims of domestic violence have financial security, job protection and flexibility to take time away from work to recover from violence.”

If passed, this new legislation would change the Employment Standard Act of Manitoba, to ensure that the rights of victims of domestic violence to take time off unpunished, would be protected.

Victims would be be able to take unpaid leave in many circumstances involving domestic violence . These leaves of absence would be available within each 52-week period. They would also be entitled to a maximum of five days of leave being paid.

In 2013 it was reported that Manitoba had the second highest incident rate of violence against women in Canada. Obviously, the province was quite concerned about their domestic violence problem – concerned enough to want to change their laws.

Given that victims of violence often don’t leave their abusers because they cannot afford to do so, especially where children are involved, this legislation has the potential to be a model for other provinces and territories in Canada.

It is to be hoped that this new innovative legislation in Manitoba will pass, and that the other provinces and territories will follow suit, so that women in domestic violence situations will have a way out – because it’s 2015.

Update: The Manitoba legislation to amend the Employment Standards Act allowing domestic violence victims leave from work was passed in March 2016.

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