Ontario’s government is proposing up to 17 weeks of job-protected leave for victims of domestic and sexual violence, a day after a minor party bill to introduce the same measures passed its second reading.
On Thursday, the Liberal provincial government announced its proposal to give workers up to 10 days off at a time for reasons like medical appointments, and up to 15 weeks intermittently for longer-term purposes, like moving house.
The proposal would cover workers or their children who experienced or were threatened with domestic or sexual abuse.
Workers would be eligible for the unpaid leave after 13 weeks of consecutive employment with the same employer. If passed, the leave would be in effect from January 1.
The proposal is a late addition to Ontario’s Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs plan (Bill 148), which includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as well as introducing 10 days of personal leave – two of which must be paid – for every worker.
In a statement to HRD, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said: "By adding a new separate leave for victims of domestic and sexual violence, we’re giving workers and their families the time and support they need while they deal with tremendously difficult circumstances."
He did not answer a question about whether the initial 10 days of leave would be paid or unpaid.
The government’s announcement came a day after an NDP member’s bill, which would provide 10 days of government-paid leave for abuse victims, passed its second reading in Ontario’s legislature.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s bill would also provide up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave in addition to the paid absence provisions.
On Wednesday, Flynn said while he supported Horwath’s bill, he was unsure about the provincial government – rather than the federal government – paying the cost of workers’ leave.
“I think it generates a discussion that I think we've needed for some time,” he said.
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