It has been more than 25 years since 14 women were murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. And yet, women and girls in Canada still face violence in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities every single day.
For the past two years, the Canadian Labour Congress has been spearheading an initiative to address the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. According to a recent cross-Canada survey conducted by the CLC and researchers at the University of Western Ontario, one in three workers has experienced domestic violence, and this violence follows them to work. Over 80 percent of victims reported that their performance was negatively impacted, and more than half said the abuse occurred at or near their workplace.
“Domestic violence is a significant issue for Canadian workers, and it affects everyone,” said Barbara Byers, CLC Secretary-Treasurer. “Unions can help by negotiating workplace solutions like paid leaves, safety planning and women’s advocate programs, by lobbying for improved health and safety legislation, and providing training for stewards and other union representatives.”
On December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the CLC will launch a new online Domestic Violence Resource Centre.
According to Byers: “Our new resource centre will include tools and strategies for union leaders, representatives and members to help build awareness, break the silence, and improve workplace safety for everyone.”
The Canadian Labour Congress is seeking to collaborate with the federal government to improve occupational health and safety regulations by including specific references to domestic violence, and the labour movement will also lobby for better legislation across all Canadian jurisdictions.
The CLC is encouraged by a number of promises made by the federal government in the recent election campaign, including a commitment to develop a National Action Plan on Violence against Women, which the CLC hopes will be guided by the Blueprint developed by labour, women’s and anti-violence organizations.
“We are looking for swift action on the government’s campaign commitments to hold a national public inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls, and to implement a national strategy on violence against women, including investment in shelters and housing,” said Byers.
December 6 is a day to remember the lives lost to violence, but it is also a time to take action. Canada’s labour movement is working hard to make work safer, and we look forward to working with the new government to help eliminate violence against women and girls.