Charlottetown – On this December 6th, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, CUPE PEI is calling for concerted action to end violence against women. It has been 25 years since that terrible day in 1989 when fourteen women were singled out and murdered at the Montreal engineering school.
“It is deeply disheartening to see that in 2014, violence against women is still widespread”, says Lori MacKay, President of CUPE PEI. “Women from all walks of life continue to face sexual harassment, physical and sexual assault and psychological abuse. Fear and shame keep many victims from reporting the incidents. Some don’t survive the attacks.”
“Women with disabilities, Aboriginal women and other disadvantaged groups are particularly at risk for violence. Nearly 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls have been reported missing or murdered across the country since 1980. How many more of our Aboriginal sisters have to die or disappear before the federal government agrees to carry out a national public inquiry into this situation?” asks MacKay.
“Violence at home and in intimate partner relationships also spill over into the workplace,” notes MacKay. “Problems don’t end when the workday starts. In some cases, their abusers even come to the work site. That’s why the labour movement is working to improve support for victims of violence inside and outside the workplace.”
“We now have more information on the impact of domestic violence on the workplace, thanks to a groundbreaking survey carried out by the Canadian Labour Congress in partnership with researchers at the University of Western Ontario. Over 8,400 Canadians responded to this first-ever Canada-wide survey,” notes MacKay.
“Results released just last week show how domestic violence follows people to work, affects their work performance and even costs some people their job,” affirms MacKay. One third of the respondents said they had experienced domestic violence. Half of those faced some form of violence at or near work, such as harassing emails, calls and texts, or stalking and physical violence. The majority of victims of violence said their ability to do their job was negatively affected.”
The CLC sent a copy of the survey results to federal labour minister Kellie Leitch and asked her to convene a roundtable bringing together labour, employers and government to develop concrete solutions. One option would be to amend Employment Standards legislation to give workers the right to request flexible working arrangements and entitlement to paid domestic violence leave.
“Violence against women is a huge socio-economic problem,” affirms MacKay. “Eradicating it will require wide-ranging coordinated efforts by governments, employers, citizens, organized labour and advocacy groups” she concluded.
The CLC/UWO survey report Can Work be Safe when Home Isn’t? Initial Findings of a Pan-Canadian Survey on Domestic Violence and the Workplace is available at: www.domesticviolenceatwork.ca
The RCMP study Missing and murdered Aboriginal Women: An Operational Overview is available at: http://www.rcmp-grc.ca/pubs/mmaw-faapd-eng.pdf