Friday, July 6, 2018

Paid leave for victims of abuse one step closer

Two years ago, voting delegates of the New Brunswick Union (NBU) gathered for its Biennial Convention.
One of the items on the agenda was a resolution for the union to push government to enact paid leave for victims of domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence. The members voted unanimously in favour of the resolution which came one step closer to becoming a reality recently.
The province unveiled proposed regulations under the Employment Standards Act which would, “provide leave of up to 10 days that could be used intermittently or continuously, and up to 16 weeks that could be used in one continuous period, of which the first five days would be paid.”
The public has until July 13 to provide feedback on the proposed regulations.
The NBU supports this move by government. Once it becomes official, it will mark two years the union has been pushing for these changes. At times, it didn’t appear this would come to fruition.
The NBU has met with numerous politicians and government officials during this process. While some were extremely helpful and onboard with the leave, others were less so.
For instance, some members of the official opposition stated they would like to see support from the business community before offering support, which was an unacceptable response for the NBU as the legislation was about protecting victims and children not making sure it wouldn’t affect the bottom line of business owners.
A government official - when presented with the idea - stated the province is not a leader when it comes to new legislation, preferring to see how other provinces move forward first. Again, this was an unacceptable response given how serious the situation and the fact that other provinces, including Manitoba and Ontario, had already passed similar legislation or were in the process.
However, we did find a lot of support. We formed a coalition with numerous community partners to push for this to become reality including Liberty Lane, New Brunswick Association of Social Workers, NB Association for Community Living, NB Nurses Union, St. Mary's First Nation, Women in Transition House Inc., Gignoo Transition House and the Fredericton Firefighters Association.
In addition, Green Party Leader and MLA David Coon was working with the NBU to bring a similar proposal forward to the legislature before the province made its first announcement concerning the leave in February. The New Brunswick NDP also supported the NBUs efforts.
Rina Arseneault, the associate director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research at the University of New Brunswick, was also invaluable during the process as well as members of the Women’s Equality Branch.
This is an important issue, one we’re pleased to see moving forward. We believe it will have a positive impact on a very serious situation.