Alberta’s workplaces must tackle violence against women

Province should follow Ontario’s lead by addressing role of workplace in domestic violence

Edmonton – Saturday, Dec. 6, marks 25 years since the murder of 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal.

At a brunch in commemoration of the event, Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer Siobhán Vipond called on the government to take action, and to ensure workplaces become part of the solution to domestic violence.

“On December 6th, we must remember that violence against women affects us all, and in every aspect of our lives – including our workplaces,” Vipond said. “Domestic violence affects the immediate victims, as well as their children, their extended families, their friends, their co-workers.”

The Alberta Federation of Labour’s governing body has passed motions calling on the Government of Alberta to follow the Government of Ontario’s lead and to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Code to include policies targeted at helping victims of domestic violence for whom the abuse follows them to work. Earlier this year, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 168, which placed a greater responsibility on employers to make sure employers are safe not just from occupational accidents, but threats from other people — whether co-workers, customers or other outside individuals.

“Domestic violence isn’t contained to the home – it follows victims to their workplaces.” Vipond said. “A recent study by the Canadian Labour Congress says that the cost to employers is about $77 million. But the cost to individuals and to families is much, much greater, and cannot be quantified.”

The study “Domestic Violence At Work” found that more than a third of women in Canada have experienced domestic violence – the majority of whom report the abuse continuing during their working days. Almost 40 per cent of those experiencing domestic violence had difficulty getting to work as a result of the abuse. For about nine per cent of victims, the effects of that violence have cost them their job.

“Women who are in abusive situations often face barriers to being taken seriously, and when they do come forward they are all too often targeted for additional harassment,” Vipond said. “These barriers must be challenged, the people who try to silence victims must be called out, and our workplaces must be made safer places for victims of domestic violence.”



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail

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