SEIU-West supports new domestic violence bill

Sask. still has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada

SEIU-West is applauding a private members bill to help victims of domestic violence tabled by the NDP this week at the provincial Legislature.

“I’m really proud of everybody involved for the work that’s gone into working together to come up with what is going to work for victims of domestic violence,” Barbara Cape, SEIU-West president, told the Times-Herald. “I’m also wondering what took them so long.

“When you think about it, and not just in Saskatchewan but across the country, the highlight and the focus that has been growing around domestic violence, we collectively — politicians, workers, everybody — should’ve jumped on this quite a bit sooner, but with that being said, I’m still happy that we’ve all made this step forward together.”

NDP critic for women, Nicole Sarauer, introduced Bill 603 as a way to allow victims of domestic violence to have the right to get out of rental agreements without penalty when fleeing domestic violence. The bill also seeks to have employers’ obligation to ensure domestic violence victims are protected while at work and are entitled to paid leave. The bill is inspired by legislation passed in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. Saskatchewan has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada.

Cape said the bill has the potential to make a big difference.

“For the workforce, I think about a couple of members that I’ve had some pretty intense conversations with across the province and I think that if this had been in place when I had those conversations, when they were going through their particular situation, I think this would have made things … a lot easier for them,” said Cape.

The situation of domestic violence is very real for Lori Lancaster, executive director of the Moose Jaw Transition House. Right now, the transition house is full and has been for a month. There are 15 beds and one emergency bed in six bedrooms.

For more on this, see the March 18, 2017 print or online edition of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.