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Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government is introducing amendments to The Employment Standards Code that would broaden the current domestic violence leave to include victims of interpersonal violence, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox, minister responsible for status of women, said today.

“Expanding eligibility to all victims of sexual violence and stalking, regardless of whether they know the assailant, would ensure all employees affected have time off to obtain medical, legal or other supports,” said Cox. “As the new minister responsible for the status of women, I’m pleased to introduce this change, which complements other recent steps our government has taken to better support victims of domestic and sexual violence.”

The changes to The Employment Standards Code would now characterize domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking as interpersonal violence.

Sexual violence is a serious issue across Canada, and especially in Manitoba. In 2018, Manitoba recorded the highest rate of police-reported sexual assault among the Canadian provinces, with 113 incidents per 100,000 population, almost twice the national rate of 77. Research also shows that up to 95 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

The new leave provisions would allow employees to take 10 consecutive or intermittent days of leave per year, and up to 17 weeks per year in one continuous period in a way that best meets their needs.

The proposed change would extend eligibility to all victims of sexual violence and stalking, and ensure an employee could also take leave if their child or a person under their care or control has witnessed or been harmed by interpersonal violence.

The minister noted the proposed legislation is consistent with the recently passed Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, which expanded the existing early lease-termination provisions for victims of domestic violence and stalking to also cover victims of sexual violence more generally.

This amendment would bring Manitoba into alignment with British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, the other provinces that allow employees who are victims of sexual violence to take a leave of absence from work regardless of the relationship to the assailant.

Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. November is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

More information about domestic violence leave in Manitoba is available at:
www.gov.mb.ca/labour/standards/doc,domestic_violence_leave,factsheet.html#q1982.