TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 5, 2013) - As Ontarians gather in cities and towns across the province to remember the women victims of gender-based violence, Ontario's labour movement recommits to concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Unions and anti-violence advocates in Canada have worked hard to pressure governments to pass workplace violence legislation that offers some protection for workers experiencing violence in the home. It took twenty years of pressure from unions and women's groups and, tragically, workplace deaths to finally win amendments to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
"To date no research has been conducted in Canadian workplaces to learn about the prevalence and impact of domestic violence," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison. "Canadians shouldn't have to rely on American and Australian research to advocate for workplace rights."
When workers experience domestic violence at home, the impacts are felt in the workplace. A recent study by Justice Canada highlights this fact by estimating that employers lose $77.9 million annually as a result of domestic violence. But the costs, both financial and personal, go far beyond that.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is working collaboratively with researchers at Western University to launch a national survey to gather data about the prevalence and the impact of domestic violence in the workplace - fluidsurveys.com/s/DVatWork. This pan-Canadian survey - the first of its kind - will provide a made-in-Canada research that will help unions, employers, advocates and governments develop good public policy as well as negotiate workplace supports. "The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) will fully support this important research and encourage Canadians to complete the survey," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison.
December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and marks the 24th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre, in which 14 women were targeted and murdered at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal because they were women. This senseless act of violence against women shocked the nation and became the catalyst for collective action to end violence against women.
"The shocking prevalence of violence, abuse and sexual assault of Canadian women reveals the shameful persistence of individual and systemic sexism and misogyny in our society. However, the dangerous consequences of these prejudices are even more acutely experienced by Aboriginal women, racialized women, trans women, women with disabilities and so many others who are marginalized or vulnerable in our society," said OFL President Sid Ryan.
"Despite the shocking and violent stories that continue to fill news broadcasts and evidence of many more incidents that continue to go unreported, uninvestigated and unnoticed, Canadian and Ontarian authorities continue to fail to act on violence against women," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "This Federation will work with our affiliated unions to support and promote an action plan to create safe homes, workplaces and communities for women and girls."
At the Federation's resent convention, over 1200 delegates from across the province called for the recognition that violence against women and girls is intricately linked to their social and economic rights. Delegates approved an Action Plan calling for:
- The adoption of a National action plan to address violence against women;
- A National inquiry into the 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls;
- Government budgeting at all levels to ensure full compliance with women's social and economic rights;
- The renewal of full funding to programs and services that support women;
- Fiscal policies that bolster women's economic autonomy;
- Decent work (improved labour standards, pensions, etc.);
- Legal aid and feminist advocacy;
- Educating boys and men towards ending gender-based violence;
- Reliable data and statistics;
- Protections and support programs for women in the workplace;
- A review of any current legislation to ensure it meets the needs and;
- Development of strong legislation and enforcement on violence in the workplace in all jurisdictions.
December 6 is an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy of the Montréal Massacre and to reach out to all families of female victims whose lives have been forever altered by acts of violence. The OFL is calling for support for the petition of the Native Women's Association of Canada to demand a national inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women (www.NWAC.ca).
"We must use the act of remembering to fuel the collaborative efforts across our country to build a better, safer and more inclusive Canada," said Hutchison. "As Canadians, we must be firm and principled in our commitment to the fair, equitable and respectful treatment of all people and speak out and act against the intolerable acts of violence against women and girls."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour. Follow OFL President Sid Ryan @SidRyan_OFL