On December 6, 1989, 14 young women were senselessly murdered at École Polytechnique. Today, we remember those and other victims on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
This year, in the wake of #MeToo and in recognition that too many women experience sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence at work, the Canadian Labour Congress has developed several ways to make a commitment to change in our workplaces, but also in our own organizations.
The CLC has developed a partnership with the producers of the documentary film, A Better Man. The film portrays a series of conversations between a survivor of domestic violence and her former abusers. It is a powerful film, intended to provoke conversations about accountability, healing and the possibility of restorative justice.
On November 24, the CLC launched a discussion guide for unions, using the film as a launching point for a broader conversation about domestic violence and how individuals, unions and workplace can act to break the silence and end the cycle of violence.The film is available online here and will appear on TVO at 6:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST today, December 6, and I encourage you and your members to watch the film, talk about your reactions whether it’s on social media, at a union event or around the kitchen table. Talk needs to lead to action, change in behaviour and to changes in legislation. You can also check out the Domestic Violence Resource Centre created by the CLC at: http://canadianlabour.ca/issues-research/domestic-violence-work.
Since the release of the survey results, the work of union members, unions, and federations of labour has seen results. Ontario will join Manitoba in establishing five paid days of domestic violence leave, and discussions are underway in a number of other jurisdictions. Legislation on harassment and violence in the federal sector was recently tabled, and the latest Budget Implementation Act, establishes unpaid family violence leave.
According to the 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 per cent of victims reported their performance was negatively impacted, and more than half said the abuse occurred at or near their workplace.
We stand with the CLC to call on federal, provincial and territorial governments to follow Manitoba and Ontario’s lead by ensuring paid employment leave for victims of domestic violence and for harassment and violence legislation to be clearly defined and establish processes to address harassment and violence at work.