The BC Federation of Labour will launch a new campaign Thursday, asking the province to mandate 10 days of paid leave for B.C. workers who experience sexual or domestic assault, saying not doing so is essentially punishing those already in a crisis.
Suzanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer of BC Federation of Labour, told CTV News 10 days was the "bare minimum" a person suffering from sexual or domestic violence requires. She said that time could be used to seek support, medical attention or move.
"Workers are currently being punished," she told CTV News. "There is some ability to take unpaid leave but we know that unpaid leave is hurting workers because it's not enabling people to remove themselves from these situations."
The workersdeservebetter.ca website goes live with the campaign Thursday and asks people to send letters to NDP MLAs and Labour Minister Harry Bains to demand a change.
The province said in a release only B.C. and Alberta don't offer paid leave with most other jurisdictions, including the federal government, offering between two and five days. In August, the province launched a public consultation about whether to strengthen protection for workers.
Skidmore insisted the policy change wouldn’t burden employers.
"The reality is we don’t want to punish workers going through this circumstance, and this disproportionately impacts women," Skidmore added.
The federation is pushing for the change noting survivors in B.C. only recently secured the right to unpaid leave. Workers can now access up to 10 days per calendar year of unpaid leave, as well as up to an extra 15 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave.
Skidmore acknowledged that was a good first step, but she said it’s time for B.C. to move forward.
Consultation until Oct 8 and recommendations brought to cabinet in fall 2019.