OTTAWA ― The Canadian Labour Congress, working in partnership with researchers at Western University, is launching a national survey on the impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces, the first-ever survey of its kind in Canada.
“The results of this survey will provide made-in-Canada research that will help unions, employers, advocates and governments develop good public policy as well as negotiate workplace supports,” says Barbara Byers, CLC Executive Vice-President. “Unions have worked hard to pressure governments to pass workplace violence legislation that offers some protection for workers experiencing violence at home, but it is still not enough.”
Byers adds that workplaces – including some that are unionized – still need better paid leave or unpaid leave options to help people deal with the effects of domestic violence. This includes time to deal with legal issues as well as access physical, emotional or mental health services.
Lise Martin, Executive Director of the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses, says: “Domestic violence doesn’t stop when a woman leaves for work. The costs to the workplace and colleagues can be considerable. Very conservative estimates put the costs of domestic violence to the workplace at $85,000 for every 100 employees.”
Barb MacQuarrie, Community Director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Western University, says: “These numbers are conservative. Domestic violence is devastating the lives of Canadian workers and it is costing Canadian workplaces in lost productivity, absenteeism and turn over. It’s easy to ignore those facts without evidence. This survey will change that.”
MacQuarrie adds: “This survey will help all of us to realize that what happens at home can have a profound impact on what happens at work. Then it will help us to understand the opportunities to keep workers and the whole workplace safe.”
Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) says that one goal of the survey is to raise awareness among employers and workers about the impacts of domestic violence, before it is too late. “It is, sadly, at the doors of health care services where we see this impact. This survey will help lift the cloud of secrecy linking safety at home and safety at work.”
The CLC’s Barbara Byers adds: “December 6 is an occasion to remember young women who lost their lives to gender-based violence but it is also a time to commit to action. Unions are uniquely placed to make a real difference to the lives of workers who may be experiencing violence in the home. That makes work safer for everyone”.
The survey is online and available in English and French until June 6, 2014. Any workers over the age of 15 are encouraged to complete the survey, whether or not they have personally experienced or witnessed domestic violence. The survey is completely anonymous and takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.
Contact: Vicky Smallman, Director
CLC Women’s & Human Rights Department
Tel: 613-526-7413 Cell: 613-866-8741