After two years of dedicated activism by Unifor, Nova Scotia became the latest province to provide paid protected leave for survivors of democratic violence.
This followed a similar and recent decision in Newfoundland and Labrador - also after a lengthy campaign by the labour movement, including Unifor and women’s rights groups. In both provinces, the NDP joined in the campaign.
“Our members, some of whom are survivors of domestic violence themselves, fought long and hard for this in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “Leaving a violent relationship is known to be the most dangerous time for women. Having paid and protected leave and extended job security will make a big difference for survivors, perhaps all the difference.”
Both provinces have provided three days of paid leave. Unifor had advocated for a minimum of 10 days, or at least for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to follow the lead of New Brunswick which set the standard this year when the Gallant government announced five paid days.
Unifor has bargained this paid leave with many employers but made it a priority in its government advocacy work several years ago in an effort to extend this protection to all workers.
According to a study done by Western University researchers, 80 per cent of domestic violence victims report that their work performance was negatively affected. Absenteeism and poor work performance can leave victims vulnerable to discipline and even job loss.
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone, no matter your economic circumstances, and having protected leave ensures women don’t have to worry about their jobs when fleeing a violent home,” said Koren Beaman, chair of the Atlantic Region Women’s Committee and a Women’s Advocate at MWF Local 1, the Irving Shipyard. “Being a survivor myself, this means so much to me. I wanted to see protected leave in every province across Canada and I am glad to see the hard work of Unifor activists and allies has paid off as we have achieved it throughout Atlantic Canada.”
Paid Domestic Violence Leave gives employees job protection and financial support to seek lives free of violence. Unifor is also committed to addressing violence against women at the bargaining table and has negotiated to have more than 350 Women’s Advocates as well as paid domestic violence leave in workplaces across Canada.