The provincial government has recently added one new bill and amended another to allow for changes in job leaves, ultimately hoping to help reduce domestic abuse and allow for more time off for new parents.

Bill 172, entitled The Saskatchewan Employment (Paid Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Violence Leave) Amendment Act, 2019, was introduced into the legislature and passed into law recently.

It seeks to allow employed victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to take 10 days off of work, five of which are paid.

The five days of paid leave will be funded by the employer and do not have to be taken consecutively. Formerly, a 10-day leave would also be granted in this situation, but they would be unpaid.

The purpose of the leave is to give time to seek medical attention, relocate, or take advantage of other supports available to the victim.

Don Morgan, the Saskatchewan minister of labour relations and workplace safety, said that Saskatchewan's interpersonal violence statistics led to the introduction of the bill in the province.

"We have amongst the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in the nation, and we think these are the type of things that will give support and benefits to victims... The people that are victims that have resources and have money, they just get up and go. It's the ones that don't have money, that have a job they're not able to get time off, those are some of the ones that need the help and need the support the most."

Before enacting the bill, the government consulted with employers' groups, where not all involved parties were in agreeance, but the vast majority were.

Other Saskatchewan initiatives hoping to deal with domestic violence in the province are Clare's Law and being able to break a lease when fleeing domestic violence.

The other act leading to more leave is Bill 153, which changed The Saskatchewan Employment Act to allow for

Nineteen weeks adoption and maternity leave.

Parental leave of 59 weeks for the parent who gave birth, or up to 63 weeks for a separate parent.

All new critically ill adult leave which allows for 17 weeks of leave.

Including sexual violence in interpersonal violence leave.

The provincial government said that the partial reasoning for the changes was to allow for provincial residents to be able to receive benefits available through the federal Employment Insurance program.

Those benefits include extended parental leave and leave to take care of critically ill loved ones.

 

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