Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

December 05, 2006 14:51 ET

Dec 6 Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women

Women in Ontario launch "Step It Up" Campaign demanding the McGunity government take real action to end violence against women

Attention: Assignment Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 5, 2006) - STATEMENT

17 years ago on December 6, 1989 14 women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were murdered. They died because they were women.

"While we remember the 14 young women whose lives ended that day in a shocking act of violence against women we must also use this day to do everything in our power to stop the violence," said Irene Harris, Ontario Federation officer responsible for women's issues.

The Step It Up campaign was launched in early November, 2006 and will continue throughout 2007 up to the October provincial election. For the next year women's equality-seeking groups, shelters, rape crisis centres, unions, anti-poverty groups, community groups will be active throughout Ontario to pressure the government for concrete actions to reduce and ultimately end violence against women.

Women make up almost half the work force and much more in some sectors. An abused woman is often a working woman. Not surprisingly, women experiencing violence at home from their male partner often carry the impact of the violence with them in the form of stress, absenteeism and job problems. Domestic violence can interfere with a woman's ability to get, perform or keep a job.

Home can be a danger zone, but for some women the workplace is no sanctuary as stalking, threats and violence follow them to work. The Federation and our community partners will continue to advocate reforms to the Employment Standards Act, the Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health & Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to ensure that violence is defined to include harassment, stalking and threats of violence. No woman should have to choose between her job and her personal safety.

A step forward would be for the McGuinty Liberals to support NDP, MPP Andrea Horwath's private member's Bill that would give all Ontario workers on-the-job protection by making workplace harassment an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Bill would make harassment count as a workplace hazard.

Another step forward would be the introduction of Violence in the Workplace Regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Workplace violence is a day-to-day reality for many working women especially in such sectors as nursing, teaching, nursing homes and social services. Verbal and physical assault is all too common. "As a society we must address the epidemic of violence against women," Harris said. "Women experience violence at home, in the workplace and in their communities - it must stop."

The Ontario Federation of Labour supports the Step It Up campaign and encourages women throughout Ontario to participate in Step It Up activities in the coming months.

"For 17 years we've heard a lot of talk from all levels of government about prevention programs, public awareness campaigns and the need for new laws and strong enforcement but the sad truth is - women are still dying," said Harris.

The Step it Up campaign outlines 10 immediate steps governments can take to make a difference:

10 Steps to End Violence Against Women:

1. Understand that violence against women is an equality rights issue.
2. Recognize that male power is upheld by rape and sexual harassment.
3. Stop racism/oppression; make Ontario accessible.
4. End poverty NOW
5. Provide fair access to justice for women.
7. Hold violent men accountable for their actions.
8. Stop criminalizing and psychiatrizing women.
9. Demand secure funding for women's organizations.
10. Listen to survivors and women's advocates - they are the experts!

cope343 /For further information: Irene Harris
OFL Secretary Treasurer
416.347.0454 (cellular)

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications Director
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138