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B.C. Government Proposing Support for Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence

The B.C. Government is proposing legislation to give workers impacted by domestic or sexual violence or parents of children impacted by those kinds of violence, up to five days of paid leave from work.

The Province said the legislation will allow up to five days of paid leave a year for employees to attend to medical, counselling or other appointments without fear of losing income.

“People faced with domestic and sexual violence should not have to lose pay when dealing with the aftermath,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “The changes introduced today help support people so they can attend medical appointments and make the necessary changes to ensure they and their children are safe.”

The B.C. Government added that, if passed, it will give people time to look for a new home or school for their children, giving victims an opportunity to rebuild their lives after suffering through violence.

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“Domestic and sexual violence are deeply traumatizing crimes,” said Tracy Porteous, executive director of the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia. “Although the road ahead may be the most difficult one that survivors will encounter, it can make a huge difference having informed and respectful people and processes in place that provide those harmed by these crimes the time to begin to heal.”

According to the Province, the proposal will build off of amendments made to the Employment Standards Act last year which allowed workers to take 10 days of unpaid, protected leave from work for those impacted by domestic or sexual violence. The new amendments the Provincial Government is putting forward would mean that five of the 10 days are paid.

“People facing domestic or sexual violence need far more supports to help them gain control of their lives than what was previously available in our province,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “We consulted broadly, we listened to what people said and we’re making another important step to add to existing supports that will make a real difference in a person’s life when they need it the most.”

That consultation, according to the B.C. Government, included feedback from 6,261 residents, written submissions from business associations, employers and employee organizations, as well as stakeholder consultation sessions in the fall of last year.

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