The CEO of the Interval Home Society applauds the Saskatchewan Government’s implementing of job provisions for those fleeing domestic violence. Bill 172, The Saskatchewan Employment (Paid Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Violence Leave) Amendment Act, will allow employees who are survivors of interpersonal and sexual violence to take five paid days and five unpaid days off work.
The provisions are to help survivors seek medical attention, access supports or relocate. Bill 153 introduced changes to leave provisions under The Saskatchewan Employment Act, including expanding interpersonal violence leave to include sexual violence.
Some of the changes were introduced, in part, to allow Saskatchewan residents to fully access benefits available through the federal Employment Insurance program, such as an extended parental leave or time to care for a critically ill loved one. Angela Rooks-Trotzuk, CEO of the Interval Home Society, says these changes reflect the impact that violence leaves.
“It’s not just the situation or incident, the violent act itself. When a person decides to disengage from that cycle, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” says Rooks-Trotzuk. “It’s not just leaving, there is finding shelter, getting kids settled, medical appointments, legal appointments. There are so many pieces that have to be put in place when somebody chooses to leave a violent relationship.”
The Interval Home Emergency Shelter sees between 350 and 450 people every year. The second-stage shelter can see upwards of 30 families per year, and the community outreach program can see upwards of 100 people per year.
Rooks-Trotzuk says that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence among the provinces. Saskatchewan is also the first province to enact Clare’s Law, allowing police to release information about someone’s violent or abusive past to intimate partners whose safety may be at risk. while moves like these are integral to improving the lives of survivors, there is still more work to be done shifting the mindset around domestic violence.
“A lot of the time it’s hidden, and people turn a blind eye because they’re not sure how to deal with it. But, I think enacting things like Clare’s Law and the new employment regulations are all steps in the right direction towards creating that shift in mindset that domestic violence is a real issue, it’s not a behind-closed-doors, in-that-family issue. It impacts us all.”
Alberta also has provisions for domestic violence survivors to break leases to escape an abusive situation. The law was introduced in 2016 and was passed unanimously in the Alberta legislature. Rooks-Trotzuk applauds the legislation as one more hurdle erased and one less worry for survivors of violence.